Street walkers pasta and now poor wretches pasta. Leave it to the Italians to come up with an interesting name for their local eats. This is Sicilian by birth. The pine nuts and currants aren’t traditional but I like what they bring to this dish.
Eggplants are abundant at the moment. You could take the time to make eggplant parm, moussaka or some other multi-step dish or you could keep it simple and make this. It is simple but that doesn’t mean it isn’t flavorful. I have made it twice already and probably will make it again. I am not doing so because I have eggplants, and lots of them, but because I like it that much.
Makes 4 to 6 servings
good quality olive oil
2 or 3 eggplant, depending on size, peeled and cubed into 1 inch pieces, about 5 cups
2 cups tomato sauce
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons currants
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
16 oz. penne pasta
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
1. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil to a small saute pan. Once it is hot add the bread crumbs and pine nuts. Season them with salt and pepper and cook them until they are browned. Add the currants and toss a few times. Empty the pan into a small bowl and let the topping cool.
2. About one hour before you start cooking put the eggplant cubes into a colander. Season the cubes with a fair amount of salt and either place the colander in the sink to drain or in a large bowl.
3. Place a large pot of generously salted water over high heat.
4. While the water is coming to a boil place a 14 inch saute pan over high heat and add 1/3 cup of olive oil. Once it is shimmering but not smoking add the eggplant. It might splatter a little if there is a lot of water clinging to the pieces so be careful. Brown the eggplant.
5. Add the red pepper flakes, a little more oil if the pan looks dry, and then the tomato sauce. Reduce the heat and simmer the sauce.
6. Add the pasta to the big pot of boiling water and cook the pasta according to the cooking time listed on the box. Once they are done, add a 1/2 to 1 cup of the starchy pasta cooking liquid to the sauce depending on how reduced it has become.
7. Strain the noodles and add them to the sauce. Toss to combine and coat the noodles. Pour the pan out into a large bowl and top with the bread-crumb-currant-pine-nut topping and serve.