Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the celery and cook, 3 minutes. Stir in the eggplant and tomatoes.
In a small bowl, combine the tomato paste, vinegar, 1/4 cup water, 2 1/2 teaspoons salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and the sugar. Stir into the eggplant. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the eggplant is tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the capers, pine nuts (if using), and parsley.
Meanwhile, cook the penne according to the package directions. Toss with the remaining oil, let cool, and cover. Combine the eggplant with the pasta before serving.
This had a really great flavor...the tartness of the vinegar compliments the eggplant well but is not overpowering. The only changes I made were that I used diced heirloom tomatoes from my garden instead of the grape tomatoes, and I added minced garlic when cooking the eggplant/tomato mix. Also added a few chopped fresh basil leaves with the parsley. It turned out a lot more "saucy" than the picture, but I think that was due to using the regular tomatoes instead of the grape ones. It still had an awesome taste!!! (we ate it warm)
Our garden is filled with produce and I'm always looking for ideas for fresh eggplant that does not use cheese. I followed the recipe with the following exceptions: I used 3 cups Ichiban eggplant sliced into 1/2 coins with the skin on and 2 cups fresh tomatoes, seeds removed, cut to the size of grape tomatoes. I served this as a warm main dish by adding sliced grilled chicken breast. It was a hit!
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