- Date: Sunday, April 27, 2009 -- 7pm
- Location: Bloomington, IN
- Kitchen: My Apartment
- Dining Companion: Matty
- Recipe Rating: B+
I have been wanting to make this simple pasta dish for quite some time but have had to put it off because I couldn't find ricotta salata (Note: ricotta salata is not the same as the ricotta you can buy in tubs next to the cottage cheese at any grocery store. Ricotta salata is a hard cheese which isn't super easy to find). Finally I had surrendered and decided just to substitute feta (which was the closest thing I could think of). I hate to do substitutions in Book recipes because I feel like I am not being true to my project. So I was feeling bad about my surrender. It was one of those grocery shopping weeks where I needed lots of relatively obscure ingredients, and found myself wandering through 4 different grocery stores looking for them. Also on my list: Matzo Cake Meal. There is one place in town that claims to carry Matzo Cake Meal, but every time we go there they declare that they are out, or that the other branch of their store has it for sure (which they don't). On the last trip before I gave up on the Matzo Cake Meal and just ordered it online, while I was cursing them under my breath for telling me (again) that they would have it when (again) they didn't, I stumbled across some ricota salata in the store. Yay! And boy am I glad I did. Because that cheese was AWESOME! Seriously, it might be my new favorite cheese. It was flavorful, and salty, and delicious. And it totally made this dish. Feta would not have been the same.
So once I had my hands on the necessary cheese, here's what I did. I started by frying slices of eggplant in oil until browned. Then I seasoned them with salt and pepper. I cooked garlic in oil then added sugar and chopped, canned, tomatoes. I cooked it until thickened then seasoned with salt and pepper. Meanwhile I cooked some rigatoni. Then I mixed together the pasta with the tomato sauce, the eggplant, and grated ricotta salata. I topped it with more ricotta salata and served. This dish was really nice. I'm not a huge eggplant fan, and I mostly pushed the eggplant aside. But my special gentleman, who is eggplant-neutral, happily ate all his eggplant and my abandoned ones. The tomato sauce was simple, but tasty. It was the cheese, though, that really pulled the dish together. It gave it a punch of flavor, and a bit of richness. The more cheese I sprinkled on my serving, the more I liked it! This was a quick and easy dish (except for finding the cheese!) that I would make again for any eggplant lovers!
The recipe is here.