Bucatini con Erbe Campestri e Melanzane
Region: Italy, Apulia
Category: Pasta with Vegetables
This pasta dish from the Italian region of Apulia is a great favorite in the late summer. In Apulia a variety of field greens are quite popular such as a great variety of different types of chicory as well as mustard greens, turnip tops, and arugula. Wild greens are also popular. For convenience, if not authenticity, a one-pound bag of prewashed mixed greens from the supermarket is ideal for the busy cook in this recipe. Bucatini, also called, perciatelli, is a thick spaghetti with a whole in the middle, that’s chewy and flavorful.
[photo: Clifford A. Wright]
Yield: Makes 6 servings
Preparation Time: 50 minutes
½ pound eggplant, peeled and cut into small cubes
6 to 8 cups olive oil for frying
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or more if desired
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
4 dried red chiles
1 pound mixed leafy greens (such as mustard greens, turnip tops, arugula, Swiss chard)
6 ounces cherry or teardrop tomatoes
1 pound bucatini
Freshly grated pecorino cheese as desired
1. Lay the eggplant pieces on some paper towels and sprinkle with salt. Leave them to drain of their bitter juices for 30 minutes. Pat dry with paper towels.
2. Preheat the frying oil to 360 degrees F in a deep-fryer or an 8-inch saucepan fitted with a basket insert.
3. Cook the eggplant in batches if necessary until golden brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Remove and set aside.
4. In a large flameproof casserole, heat the extra-virgin olive oil over medium heat with the garlic and dried chiles. When the garlic begins to sizzle, add the tomatoes and reserved eggplant and cook, stirring, until the tomatoes start to burst, about 5 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, for every pound of pasta, bring 6 quarts of water to a rolling boil over high heat, salt abundantly using 4 to 6 tablespoons salt, then add the pasta in handfuls. Once the bucatini wilts into the pot, add the greens and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally so the pasta doesn't stick, until al dente. Transfer the pasta and greens with 2 ladlefuls of pasta water to the casserole and cook, stirring, for a minute or two. Add the cheese, drizzle with a little olive oil if desired and toss well, and serve.