My husband and I got really in to this season of the Next Food Network Star. I think the new format made it more competitive and really enjoyable to watch. After a few weeks of watching, my interest was piqued most not by one of the contestants (although I did love Justin and was glad he won) but by a long-standing member of the network, Alton Brown. I started looking for some of his more unusual recipes and stumbled upon this one. Alton is known for taking everyday ingredients and using them in a surprising and thought-provoking way. This recipe takes eggplant, makes “pasta” out of it and then builds a whole dish around it. I couldn’t get over how delicious this was and my husband hasn’t stopped talking about it so it gets my stamp of approval!
Start off with two large purple eggplant and peel them. Using a french-style mandoline, cut the eggplant into lengthwise strips that are 1/4″ thick. Lay out on 2 wire racks fitted over baking sheets and sprinkle generously with salt. What you’re doing here is bringing out the moisture in the eggplant which will soften them and make them more pliable… you’ll start to notice condensation appearing where the salt was. After letting the eggplant sit with the salt on it for 30 minutes, rinse with cold water and roll in paper towels to dry. Slice the pieces of eggplant into fettucine-like strips and set aside.
Heat 4 tbsp olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add 2 minced cloves of garlic and 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes and cook until the garlic is slightly golden and aromatic. Add the eggplant “pasta” and toss to coat. Add 4 seeded and chopped tomatoes and cook for 3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup heavy cream and increase the heat to thicken the sauce. Finally, add in 4 tbsp basil cut into thin strips and 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan and toss to combine. Season with pepper, but no salt as the eggplant will already be salty enough.