Spring has finally arrived here in Pennsylvania and therefore, spent the entire weekend outside. Glorious!! Garden is almost ready! Little basil plants are growing stronger! I moved the olive tree and the fig tree outside…and I even have one spring fig growing on my tree (hmmm, good excuse for a fig party when it is ripe!) I was just outside listening to night fall and had to drag myself back inside. I spent a perfect weekend with a wonderful friend who paid a surprise visit. Last evening was spent sitting outside over good food, excellent wine and wonderful conversation until night had fallen around us. I was in the mood for the tastes of Sicily – the combination of pine nuts, raisins and capers – had me thinking about a pasta dish I have whenever I visit the island and decided it was the perfect pairing to the grilled oregano lemon chicken that I was serving. This raisins add a sweet contrast to the saltiness of the capers. Perfect either hot or at room temperature (yes, had a dish for breakfast this morning.) If you do not have fusilli on hand, substitute your favorite pasta shape that will hold the sauce (rigatoni or penne perhaps). Easy delicious dish…..happy spring! Enjoy……
Fusilli with Tomatoes, Capers, Pine Nuts and Raisins
2 medium sized eggplants
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/3 cup capers (rinsed if using salted; drained if using vinegar-packed)
1/2 cup raisins or currants
1 (28-ounce) can diced San Marzano tomatoes in their juice
Freshly ground pepper
1 pound fusilli pasta (or similar shape)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
1/2 cup basil leaves, diced
1. Slice eggplants into 1/2 inch slices, crosswise. Place in colandar and salt. Allow to rest for 30 minutes to allow bitter juices to extract from eggplant. Flip to other side, salt and allow to rest for another 30 minutes. Rinse eggplant slices. Dry with paper towels. Dice to 1/4 to 1/2 inch pieces.
2. Over medium high heat in a heavy saucepan, heat the olive oil and then saute the diced onion until soft (about 5 minutes). Add the garlic and saute for another minute. Stir in the diced eggplant and saute until the eggplant is tender (about 10 minutes).
3. Stir in the pine nuts, capers and raisins. Saute for a few minutes. Add the diced tomatoes.
4. Simmer for 15 minutes until the eggplant is soft and tomatoes have broken down. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
5. In the meantime, bring a pot of salted water to boil. Add the fusilli and cook according to package directions until al dente (about 12 minutes). Drain pasta and add to pasta sauce.
6. Cook for about a minute to allow the sauce to coat the pasta.
7. Place in serving dish. Stir in the freshly grated Parmigiano cheese.
8. Sprinkle with the fresh diced basil leaves.
9. Serve and enjoy…………