Unlike some pasta salads, this one is best served at room temperature. Don't refrigerate it, or the penne will get gummy and unpleasant. We've peeled the eggplant here, but if you like the texture of eggplant skin, leave it on.
8 tablespoons olive oil
1 large eggplant (about 1 3/4 pounds), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 pound penne
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
2 tablespoons lemon juice
How to Make It
In a large nonstick frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over moderate heat. Add one third of the eggplant and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the eggplant is tender and brown, about 4 minutes. Remove the eggplant from the pan and put it in a large bowl. Cook the remaining eggplant in two batches, each using 2 tablespoons of the oil and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Add the garlic to the last batch of eggplant during the final minute of cooking.
Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the penne until just done, about 13 minutes. Drain. Rinse with cold water and drain thoroughly. Transfer to the bowl with the eggplant.
Toss the pasta and eggplant with the remaining 2 tablespoons oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt, the parsley, pepper, and lemon juice.
Wine Recommendation: Chianti is one of the versatility champions of the wine world. Its high acidity, medium body, moderate tannins, and understated dried-cherry fruit allow it to play a supporting role with many cuisines. Serve one here and you'll see why.
Notes: Eggplant soaks up oil like a sponge; so it's best to cook this vegetable in a nonstick pan. That way, you can limit the amount of oil available for the eggplant to absorb without worrying about it sticking.
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