Even if you don't like eggplant...you're going to love this. How do I know? Because all my eggplant hater friends told me so.
I serve this over pasta but you can certainly serve this alone or over rice and it's great over fish... especially tuna.
The great thing about this recipe besides how darn good it is... is that it teaches you how to sauté eggplant... which, my friends, is no easy thing (it can get oily) unless someone shows you how. And here, I'll do just that!
1 lb (.45 kg) pasta - use your favorite (gluten-free or not)
1 medium eggplant - medium diced
1 cup grape tomatoes (226.8 g) - cut in half
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1/4 cup (56.7 g) tomato paste (or a heaping spoonful)
1/4 of a small onion - medium dice
1 medium garlic clove - finely chopped
1/4 cup (62.5 ml) olive oil - or enough to generously cover the bottom of the pan
1/4 cup (56.7 g) capers - rinsed
1/4 cup (56.7 g) kalamata olives
Cut eggplant into 1/2″ rings and then into 1/4″ cubes - or just don't worry about the exact size of the rings and cubes and just cut them into a medium dice. And yes, leave the skin on. It adds color and nutrients and keeps the eggplant from turning to mush!
Place a large saute pan over med/high heat and add the oil (just enough to cover the bottom of the pan). Now here's the tricky part. In order for the eggplant to not get oil logged, the oil has to be hot (but not smoking) before you add the eggplant. So go ahead, crank up the heat and add the eggplant. Stir occasionally...just enough to give all the pieces a turn to be on the bottom of the pan close to the heat.
When the eggplant has softened a bit (about 5 minutes or so) add the onions and cook for another 5 minutes or so. Stir occasionally but not too often.
Add the tomatoes and stir occasionally. Cook for another 5 minutes or so. You can add the chopped garlic at this point too.
Now the eggplant is almost cooked SO LOWER THE HEAT. Taste it just to make sure it's almost cooked through. Now make a space in the pan for a heaping spoonful of the tomato paste. Add it and spread it around the surface and cook for a moment or two and get ready to add some much needed liquid.
Add the broth and stir to dissolve the tomato paste. See it make a beautiful colored rich broth. Now you can crank up the heat again.
Add the olives and capers and let the sauce reduce a bit and blend with all these great flavors.
In the meantime, you would have cooked the pasta according to package directions. Make sure to cook it al dente which means slightly undercooked (especially since it going to be added to the pan) with a little bite to it.
Move all the eggplant and stuff to the side of the pan (this is why you need a large one) add the pasta and toss it with the liquid part of the sauce (which should remain on the other side of the pan). This will really blend the pasta with the sauce.
Season the pasta and toss until well blended. Transfer the pasta to a platter and top with the remaining ingredients.
Note: if you feel uncomfortable doing all this in one pan you can add the pasta to a bowl and toss with the liquid part of the sauce added to the bowl, and then transfer to a platter or individual plates and THEN top with the remaining sauce. The reason for this is that you want to distribute enough sauce with each serving without it getting lost in the pasta.