If you are an eggplant lover, this dish is for you!
Eggplant and tomato sauce flavored with capers and green olives and mixed with quinoa spaghetti, fresh parsley, and Parmesan cheese.
This Eggplant Pomodoro Pasta is a 30-minute vegetarian and gluten-free dish that you can make on a Tuesday night.
The summer is officially over. Our AC is turned off, windows are open, and even with a lot of dust coming inside, I am loving the breeze. They say the warm summer temperatures are not going anywhere yet, but I can certainly feel the season change early in the morning and late in the evening. Personally, if I had my way I would spend all my day outside. During the day, I keep finding myself coming up with an excuse to go outside even though I should be home and working. I am sure you know the feeling.
Today’s recipe, Eggplant Pomodoro Pasta, is the final summer dish of the year. This 30-minute weeknight pasta was one of my mom’s classic recipes that I grew up eating every summer during my childhood years. It is a vegetarian dinner that makes a great use of tomatoes and eggplants that are currently in abundance. If you are an eggplant lover, this dish is for you.
About the recipe:
If you have ever cooked eggplants before, you would know, sometimes, especially if it is an older eggplant, its brown seeds might cause it taste bitter. To get rid of the bitterness, my mother used to put sliced eggplants in a bowl of water with a generous amount of salt. Letting it sit in salty water for 10-15 minutes would improve the taste of the flesh and get rid of the bitterness. Alternatively, you can also sprinkle your eggplant with salt and let is sit on the counter for 20-30 minutes. In both methods, it is imperative to pat dry them with paper towels and make sure they are as dry as possible. With all that being said, if you have access to freshly picked eggplant with very little amount of seeds, feel free to skip this step.
In Italian, pomodoro means tomato. As the name suggests, this recipe uses a generous amount of tomatoes. In the recipe below, I used a combination of Roma tomatoes and cherry tomatoes as I think that almost everyone have access to those two kinds. However, if you can get your hands on juicy ripe vine tomatoes feel free to swap Roma tomatoes with them. I added both kinds of tomatoes at the same time, but you can also add cherry tomatoes towards the end. I sometimes do that, because I love the sweetness and freshness that they add to the dish.
One important thing I want to mention here is the seasoning. Since we add capers and green olives, that are both salty ingredients, I recommend giving it a taste before adding more salt into the sauce. Some varieties of capers and olives might be saltier than others. To find the right balance of salt for your preference, I recommend giving it a taste as you go.
In terms of the pasta, I used quinoa spaghetti that I bought from Trader Joe’s. I prefer quinoa spaghetti as I think it is healthier than regular spaghetti. Plus it is gluten-free. However, if you do not have access to pasta made with alternative flours (brown rice, quinoa, etc.) and don’t mind having gluten in your diet, you can always use regular semolina flour pasta.
To give the whole dish an additional layer of flavor, in the end I sprinkled it with Italian parsley, but as I was researching for this recipe I saw many home cooks use basil as well. Feel free to switch it up based on whichever you have on hand.
Finally, I used a handful of roasted pine nuts to finish the dish. I keep a jar of roasted pine nuts in my freezer to add a nice crunch to dishes like this. However, I am aware that a lot of people are either allergic or simple do not like pine nuts. If you are one of them, feel free to swap them with walnuts or do not use nuts at all.
Other Pasta Dishes You Might Be Interested In
Brown Rice Caprese Spaghetti Vegetarian + Gluten-Free
Creamy Mushroom Pasta with Fresh Peas and Ricotta Vegetarian + Gluten-Free
Crunchy Veggie Bowl with Warm Peanut Sauce Vegetarian + Gluten-Free
Roasted Shrimp and Kale Rigatoni with Lemon Ricotta Sauce
Linguine with Walnut Bechamel Sauce and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Eggplant Pomodoro Pasta
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: Serves 4
- Category: Gluten-Free and Vegetarian Pasta Dish
- Cuisine: Italian
- 1 pound quinoa or brown rice pasta, (I use and love Trader Joes’ quinoa pasta)
- 1 large eggplant (1 pound), cut into 1-inch small cubes – no need to peel
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 5-6 medium sized Roma tomatoes, cut into small cubes
- 1 cup colorful cherry tomatoes, sliced
- 3 tablespoons capers, drained and rinsed
- ½ cup green olives, pitted and sliced
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- salt and pepper *
- 4 scallions, chopped both green and white parts
- ½ cup Italian Parsley, rinsed and chopped thinly
- 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- ½ cup lightly roasted pine nuts (optional)
- Cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Reserve one cup of the pasta liquid. Set aside.
- As the pasta is cooking, make the eggplant pomodoro sauce: Fill a bowl with 4 cups of cold tab water. Add a tablespoon of salt. Place the eggplant cubes into the salty water. Let it sit for 10 minutes in water. Rinse and place on a sheet of paper towels to dry.
- Heat olive oil in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet (or any heavy bottom pan) and add in the eggplant. Cook, stirring frequently, for 5-6 minutes. Add in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
- Stir in the tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.
- Add in the Roma tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, capers, and green olives. Season with ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper. Pour the balsamic vinegar into the sauce. Give everything a gentle stir and let it cook for 10-15 minutes in medium heat. Taste for seasoning and add if necessary.
- Place the cooked pasta into the sauce (alternatively you can place everything in a large bowl). Sprinkle it with scallions, parsley, Parmesan cheese, and pine nuts (if using). If the pasta feels dry, use some of the reserved pasta liquid. Give it a toss to distribute the sauce evenly.
- Serve with more Parmesan cheese parsley on the side.
* Please make sure to taste for seasoning as you cook the sauce. Since this recipe uses already salty capers and green olives, I recommend giving the sauce a taste before adding more salt.