Spicy Eggplant Pasta Sauce

September 26, 2012

In the game of Katie’s life, last night was a solid point for me. I got in a much needed run, did some chores, and spent some time in the kitchen. The night ended with kitty snuggles and a cuppa tea. I’m working on a cold, so I’m hoping last night’s evening of sweat, accomplishment and relaxation will help boot it to the curb before it takes up permanent residence.

Now. Let’s talk pasta…

In the past couple of weeks I’ve been trying to put in a good faith effort in coming up with some of my own recipe ideas.  That being said, a lot of my inspiration comes from recipes I find either here on the web, in a cookbook or when I’m out to eat.  This dish is no exception.

While I was home this past weekend my mom, husband and I were out to eat and I had my eye on the Vegan burger (!!) or the “WHOLE WHEAT SPAGHETTI WITH SPICY EGGPLANT SAUCE”.  When my first choice came back as a bust (who runs out of Vegan burgers??), I didn’t feel too badly about ordering the pasta that boasted a red sauce comprised of tomato, spring onion, pepper, red pepper.

I didn’t take a picture, but what came out was a little disappointing.  The pasta was pretty heavy on the olive oil and I could count the pieces of eggplant that I saw on my hand.  The pieces were pretty small and didn’t add much flavor.  As for that red sauce?  there were less flecks of red than there were pieces of eggplant – and the spice factor was pretty non-existent.  I don’t know if I caught the restaurant on a flop night, because usually their food is pretty good, but I left with an unsatisfied craving for a thick, hearty and heavy on the spice pasta sauce, simple but delicious.

So, I decided to make my own.

Lets see, thick, hearty and heavy on the spice?  Check, check and checkity check check.  Fun noodles?  Werd.

Katie’s Spicy Eggplant Sauce:

1 medium eggplant, cut into about 1 inch chunks – I left the skin on mine, but you could always peel it if you prefer.

1 28 oz can Crushed Tomatoes (I used the can with Italian seasoning added)

2 hot red chili peppers –  seeded to taste and diced (I seeded 1.5 peppers and left some seeds in for the heat)

2 tsp ground pepper

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp liquid smoke

1/2 tsp maple syrup (optional, i’m not sure this added much)

1 tsp garlic powder

4 tsp ketchup

2 Tbsp Tamari (Optional)

To make the sauce, I salted the eggplant for about 30 minutes (note: this is the perfect time to sneak in an after work 3 miler.  It felt SO. GOOD.) and sauted it in a splash of olive oil until they started to get a bit translucent, mushy and are letting off some of their own liquid.  In goes the crushed tomatoes and 1 of the chili peppers.  After letting that simmer for a few minutes, I used my handy dandy immersion blender to blend up some of the eggplant into the sauce.  I wanted a slightly chunky sauce, with lots of visible eggplant pieces so I made sure to stop once I hit the consistency I wanted.  If you don’t have an immersion blender, you could achieve the same effect by putting half of the sauce into a blender and leaving the other half chunky.  After that, I just added the rest of the ingredients and let it simmer together while I got the rest of the meal together.

The pepper and liquid smoke really gave this a deep and, for lack of better term, smoky tone, without losing the heat.  I originally added the maple syrup to try and balance the spice, but in the end I don’t think this did much, but I started to get there with the ketchup.

I could’ve easily thrown in some spice mixes that I have (Chinese Five Powder, Tandoori, Turkish, Cajun, etc) to give me the same idea of heat, but I wanted to see if I could achieve the flavors I wanted flying solo.    Brandon and I both really enjoyed this, especially with a side of garlic toast and a sprinkling of nutritional yeast.    I think too, that some nutritional yeast would taste pretty good mixed into the sauce as well and next time I think I’ll add that and some diced onion to the mix!

This certainly isn’t your everyday jar of Marinara, which my husband was quick to point out (in disappointment, I might add), but then again, it wasn’t meant to be!  I’m pretty excited that I could take a disappointing experience and turn the lingering craving into a reality!

Where do you get your inspiration from?

xo

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