This dish is a great example of how cuisine changes as we become aware and intrigued by other cultures. It’s about ‘authenticity’, in a way that most people don’t talk about. I mean, what is more ‘authentic’ than learning and evolving?
Talk of ‘authentic food’ often bothers me. On one hand, I understand wanting to recreate a dish the way that it’s usually eaten in the place it originated. That said, what makes something ‘authentic’? Over the centuries, dishes and eating patterns change as new ingredients are passed from country to country. Not only that, but there are regional – and even household – differences that change the way a dish is made.
So how do people know what the ‘right’ version of a dish is?
FYI: this blog is not especially about authenticity. It’s about good food, that hopefully isn’t too cumbersome to make, that retains a certain spirit. It’s about inspiration, more than anything.
The writeup for this dish was interesting, talking about how Argentinians like their Italian food. Like most of us, they add their own special ingredients – in this case, olives and chiles. This seemingly little twist on an idea marries cultures, and creates something new.
Now, there’s a Canadian (me) eating an Argentine’s take on Italian food. Oh, the layers!
This is a great twist on the usual pasta dish. I love eggplant, and love any opportunity to add more to our repertoire. The olive twist really does make the dish special – it adds a tangy, salty flavour that really breaks through the eggplant. This is a lovely dish, that’s really easy to make. Could be made on a weeknight, although the sauce will need to cook for about an hour.
Pasta con Salsa de Berenjena (Pasta with Eggplant and Tomatoes)
modified from this recipe from about.com.
- 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
- 1 tablespoons diced red chile pepper (I used jalapeno, you could also use chile flakes)
- 1 20oz can of diced tomatoes, drained
- 1 medium eggplant, diced
- 1/2 cup sliced green olives
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 pound pasta
- 1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
- Using a mortar and pestle, bash the rosemary leaves a little bit to break them up and release some of the flavour. Add the other dried herbs and mix. Set aside.
- Heat the olive oil, over medium heat, in a deep sauté pan. Cook the onions, garlic, red bell pepper and chile pepper until softened.
- Add the herbs and cook for a couple minutes more, stirring.
- Add the tomatoes, eggplant, and olives. Cover and cook over low heat for about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- While the sauce is cooking, prepare the pasta according to package directions.
- In the last 10 mintues of cooking the sauce, add the basil.
- Serve sauce over pasta, and garnish with a few more olives, grated parmesan cheese and more fresh basil.