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Today: A weeknight pasta dish that shows off eggplant's versatile, satisfying side.
Certain vegetables go a little further than others in creating “meaty” texture in vegan recipes. Mushrooms, root vegetables, and legumes are all brilliant in this department. Eggplant is extra special, because it contributes meatiness without weighing a dish down the way an overload of beans or lentils sometimes can. It’s versatile, nutritious, and it absorbs flavors easily, so it’s a perfect choice for spicy, bold dishes.
Another satisfying vegan eggplant dish: Baba Ganoush.
This pasta showcases all of eggplant’s most magical properties. Roasting the eggplant brings out its natural sweetness and tenderness, while combining it with a savory tomato sauce gives it a chance to soak up garlic, oregano, and spicy red pepper flakes. The dish is hearty, satisfying, and easy to whip up -- even on a weeknight.
If eggplant’s not for you, you can substitute roasted or sautéed mushrooms and mix them into the sauce in step 3. Lentils would also be a nice addition, as would roasted zucchini in the summer. Like many pasta dishes, this one welcomes a little creative interpretation.
Spicy Eggplant Pasta
Serves 4 to 6
2 medium eggplants
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups chopped plum tomatoes or one 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, or 1 1/2 teaspoons dry oregano
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes, plus extra for finishing
1/4 cup fresh, chopped basil, plus extra for finishing
1 pound linguine pasta
Photos by James Ransom