Suggested pasta: 1 lb.dried cavatappi or other short, sturdy pasta.
Beyond pasta: Serve over grilled lamb chops or sausages. Mix with grilled or roasted peppers, summer squash, or onions to make a ratatouille-style side dish.
Cheese option: Freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano.
In a 10- or 11-inch sauté pan, heat the oil, onion, and garlic over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the onion is softened but not browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the cubed eggplant and cook, stirring frequently, until the eggplant softens and begins to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the tomatoes, salt, and pepper to taste. Simmer, stirring occasionally and adjusting the heat to maintain a lively but not too vigorous simmer, until the tomatoes have been reduced to a thick, pulpy sauce, 15 to 20 minutes. Sprinkle the balsamic vinegar over the sauce, stir, and simmer for another 5 minutes. Stir in the mint and more salt and pepper to taste.
To serve with pasta
While the sauce is cooking, bring a large pot of abundantly salted water to a vigorous boil and cook the pasta until al dente. Drain it well. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasonings if needed. Toss the pasta with three-quarters of the sauce and divide among individual serving bowls. Spoon a little of the remaining sauce over each serving and sprinkle on the cheese, if you like.
nutrition information (per serving):
based on five servings without pasta;
Photo: Scott Phillips