As I started roasting eggplants more, I found that I could extend their life by tossing them with cooked spaghetti (a quarter pound is, I've found, the perfect portion for one). A couple more ingredients joined the party as I continued to perfect the dish: red pepper flakes for heat and rice vinegar for balance. The main ingredient here is, of course, the white miso—it adds that savory depth, made even better once fried in olive oil. If ever there were a dish you'd want to eat on repeat, then this umami-packed eggplant spaghetti must be it. —Eric Kim
Preheat oven to 400°F. In a quarter sheet pan, toss together the eggplant, red onion, salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Roast in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until charred at the edges.
Meanwhile, in a small dish, stir together the miso, mirin, vinegar, brown sugar, and red pepper flakes.
About 15 minutes into the vegetables’ roasting time, bring a pot of water to a boil, salt generously, then cook the spaghetti according to package instructions. Reserve some of the cooking liquid, then drain.
In the same (still very hot!) pot over low heat, add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and garlic and stir about 30 seconds, or until garlic is fragrant. Add the miso-mirin mixture, stirring 30 seconds more to caramelize miso and cook off the wine (it should bubble up violently). Toss the drained spaghetti into this, cooking over the heat and stirring constantly until well-coated in the garlicky miso. At this step you can add a splash of the reserved cooking liquid if your pasta gets too tight (I usually don’t need to but appreciate the insurance).
Gently stir in the roasted eggplant and red onion. Garnish with scallions, if you'd like.
Eric Kim is a senior editor at Food52, where his solo dining column, Table for One, runs Friday mornings. Formerly the managing editor at Food Network and a PhD candidate in literature at Columbia University, he writes about food, travel, and culture and lives in a tiny shoebox in Manhattan with his dog, Quentin "Q" Compson. His favorite writers are William Faulkner, John Steinbeck, and Ernest Hemingway, but his hero is Nigella Lawson. You can follow him on Twitter @ericjoonho.