It was bound to happen sooner or later. I guess in this case sooner.
The hubby is working late tonight so I decided to spare you all from the pathetic dinner I threw together for myself using leftovers in the fridge/freezer. Instead I thought I would recap last Thursday’s catastrophe.
Growing up in Northern New Jersey I had access to amazing Italian food and pizza. Two of my most favorite dishes were Penne A La Norma at Ciao Bella (which no longer exists) and Baked Ziti Siciliana from TPR (but they changed owners and its just not the same). The basic theme – eggplant, red sauce, pasta, and cheese. So when I came across the recipe in my new pasta cookbook for Spaghettini alla Bellini – eggplant, red sauce, pasta and cheese I had to try it.
I followed the recipe meticulously. I cut the eggplant into fans, salted them and let them sit for an hour.
I sautéed the garlic, added the hand crushed tomatoes, basil, and pepper and watched the sauce thicken.
I substituted penne for spaghettini trying to recreate dishes from my childhood. Then it came time to fry the eggplant. I preheated the pan, added the olive oil filling up the pan 3/8 full just like the directions said, and waited for the oil to get hot but not smoke before adding the eggplant. Then I waited for them to crisp up and turn golden . . . it never happened. They spent the next 10 minutes soaking in olive oil, drinking it up, and turn into soggy messes.
I tried to blot them on paper towels before serving them, but there was only so much oil those paper towels could absorb. So I did what all the chefs on Top Chef do when they have a disaster on their hands – plate it beautifully and hope it tastes much better than it looks.
Well I didn’t ruin the pasta or the red sauce. The eggplant, on the other hand, let’s just say its not my best work. It was soggy, oily, and just blah. I have no idea what I could have done or changed to get them to crisp so I am going to put up the white flag on this recipe for now. Suggestions anyone?