Sicilian Eggplants Are Pearls Over Pasta

Eggplants were first introduced to Europe by Arab farmers in Spain and Sicily.  The anonymous Cordoban Calender of 961 mentions eggplants.  In Sicily the word for eggplant, milinciana derives from the Arabic word for the plant bādhinjān.  It was not at all popular at first.  As for the combination of pasta and eggplants which is so typically Sicilian, the Italian culinary scholar who wrote a book on pasta, Alberto Consiglio, thought the combination so heavenly that it would lead one to say under their Christian breath la ilaha il Allah, abu Muhammad rasul Allah (there is no god but God, and Muhammed is his messenger).  Consiglio goes on to say that the combination of pasta with eggplant can be attributed to Arab-Sicilian gastronomy.  This recipe is the basic pasta and eggplant recipe of which there are many.  If one were to add tomatoes and basil the preparation becomes the famous Pasta alla Norma.

Pasta con le Melanzane
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Pasta
Cuisine: Sicilian
Serves: 4
  • 2 large eggplants (about 3 pounds), peeled and cut into 1½-inch cubes
  • Salt to taste
  • Olive oil for frying
  • 3 whole dried red chiles
  • 1 garlic clove, lightly crushed
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • ¾ pound vermicelli or spaghetti
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
  1. Preheat the frying oil in a deep fryer or an 8-inch saucepan fitted with a basket insert to 360 degrees F. with the dried chiles and the garlic clove. As the garlic turns brown, remove and discard. Leave the chiles.
  2. Cook the eggplant pieces, in batches so you don’t crowd them, until golden brown, 5 to 8 minutes. Drain the eggplant on paper towels and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil, salt abundantly then cook the pasta, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is al dente. Drain without rinsing. Transfer to a serving bowl and toss with the parsley and olive oil. Add the eggplant pieces and toss again gently. Serve very hot.


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