June: Orecchiette with eggplant, basil, and lemon

June: Orecchiette with eggplant, basil, and lemon

This month’s recipe was an easy pick for us eggplant fiends. This is June 30th, the last recipe of the month in Notes from the Larder, and fittingly, it became our last recipe for this June. Eggplant is at its best summer to early fall, but this dish seems like a year-round palate-pleaser.

You can find the recipe online via The Guardian, the eggplant charmingly appearing there as “aubergine.” (Aubergine, capsicum, courgette–Europeans have prettier names for just about every vegetable, don’t they?)

You start by scoring a couple of halved eggplants. I mean scoring in both the sense of acquiring the eggplants (exciting in and of itself, if you ask me!) and of making shallow criss-cross cuts into the flesh. (Pretty! And they make a nice sound when you cut into them–I’ll stop being creepy now.) Then you brush them with olive oil and throw them into a 400-degree oven until the insides are softened. The recipe suggests “thirty minutes or until the skin is black, preferably a little charred, and soft to the touch.”

The idea is to make a thick sauce by mixing the flesh of the eggplant with olive oil, salt, pepper, lemon juice, and shredded basil. It’s an interesting richer alternative to a typical pasta with tomato sauce. Next time, I would just use smaller eggplants or cook them for longer, because it was a little tough to scoop out the flesh from the outer edges. The middles were softened really nicely, though, and I made sure to use up the skins by sautéing them and turning them into a bed for the pasta. (Hidden treasure alert!)

Speaking of the pasta, how cute are those little ear-shaped guys?

The pasta is tossed and coated with the eggplant sauce, then topped with caramelized onions and more fresh basil. And with that, I’ll leave you with the sage words of wisdom with which Nigel Slater prefaces this recipe:

You will need some Parmesan to pass around.

Oh yes. Yes, you will.