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Eggplant Puttanesca

  Eggplant Puttanesca with Handmade Fettuccini
  Eggplant Puttanesca
with Handmade Fettuccini

One of the things I have been enjoying about the Saskatoon Farmers Market this year is the availability of fresh eggplant.  What we have enjoyed most so far is Eggplant Parmigiana, but recently I got a hankering to see if I could find a recipe for Eggplant Puttanesca. 

Puttanesca is a simple sauce comprised primarily of tomatoes, anchovies, garlic, onions, olives and capers.  After some searching, and picking and choosing from several recipes, this is what I came up with.  The depth and variety of flavors is surprisingly good.  Note that the anchovies, olives and capers will all add salt to the dish, so it is not necessary to add more.

Eggplant Puttanesca

1 med Eggplant
3 tbsp Olive Oil
3 cloves Garlic, thinly sliced
¼–½ tsp Red Pepper Flakes, to taste
5   Anchovy Fillets, drained and rough chopped (omit for a vegetarian version)
1 14 fl. oz can Diced Tomatoes, drained
½ 14 fl. oz can Crushed Tomatoes
½ cup Whole Green Italian Olives, pitted (see note)
2 tbsp Capers, rinsed
3 tbsp Chopped Fresh Parsley
¼ tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper, or to taste
6   Basil Leaves, freshly chopped or torn
  1. Peel the eggplant and cut it into ½ to ¾-inch cubes. You should have about 4½ cups. Put the diced eggplant into a colander set in your sink, salt lightly and toss to coat. Let stand at least 15 minutes, then rinse and drain well.
  2. Heat oil over medium-low heat in a large skillet. Add anchovies and cook, using a wooden spoon to break the anchovies up.
  3. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for  1 minute more until the garlic just starts to brown.
  4. Increase the heat to medium-high and add the eggplant.  Stir to coat and cook 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until eggplant is just starting to brown and become tender.
  5. Add diced and crushed tomatoes together and stir.  Reduce heat back to medium and cook 5 - 10 minutes until somewhat reduced.  Do not overcook or the eggplant will become mushy.
  6. Add olives, capers, parsley and black pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, an additional 2-3 minutes. Add additional hot pepper flakes to taste.
  7. Garnished with chopped basil and serve with cooked pasta and grated Parmesan cheese.

Note: To pit olives, crush with the flat blade of a chef's knife, as you would garlic.  Pick out the pit, leaving the rest whole.  You can substitute Kalamata olives if desired.

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