Recipe Review: Eggplant Puttanesca

I have a complicated relationship with eggplant. I mean, it’s not that great of a relationship and I definitely would not advertise it on my Facebook page, but eggplant is very much a part of my life. I make it rarely because I do such a terrible job of preparing it. Yet every time I think I will just cut that sucker out of my diet for good and wash my hands of the whole, I go out to eat and try a little of someone’s baba ghanoush or take a bite of some great eggplant stir fry and my desire to master cooking the damn thing reignites. Eggplant, I just cannot quit you.

Before I launch into recapping the wonderful recipe I found, I want to provide a few facts about eggplant and puttanesca. All of the facts come from quick internet searches because, well, doesn’t the internet just know everything?

  1. Eggplant is in the same plant family as tomato, potato, and the deadly nightshade.
  2. Eggplant is native to the Indian Subcontinent, so thank you Indian Subcontinent for the deliciousness.
  3. Eggplant is called “eggplant” by us weirdo Americans some suspect because we gave the name to the small yellow and white cultivars that resembled goose eggs. Now, of course, we generally associate eggplant with those giant purple things, making the name a hilarious relic of past cultivars.
  4. All of eggplant is edible, but it has a really nasty bitter taste if not cooked well enough. This is where my issues come in.
  5. Puttanesca apparently literally means “whore’s style,” so that’s pretty cool.

Alright, so there you have it ““ I found a recipe for eggplant puttanesca and the combination of eggplant challenge and fun Italian food was more than enough to draw me in. The interested parties can click right around here to get taken to the original recipe location. Please, do not disappear until I’ve said my piece: I have valuable insight gained from culinary struggle.

Overall, this recipe is delicious. It is quick and easy and I would make it again in a second. But I would make two kind of big changes to the recipe. First, I would add more than ½ a cup of olives. Unless I measured incorrectly (and I very well might have), I added ½ cup of olives, and as I was eating, I could tell that the recipe could benefit from some bonus olives. If you like olives, do not be afraid to go whole hog. I’d also maybe add a dash more oregano, but that really depends on the sauce.

The other large change is cooking the eggplant longer. I adjusted the cooking time as I cooked, however, I would still go longer than my adjustment. My eggplant cubes really varied in quality ““ some were flavorful and tender and others were, if not still bitter, then definitely slightly squeaky and undercooked. Part of this is due to my own lack of familiarity with eggplant and what to expect from it, but I’d still up the general eggplant cook time as it appears on the recipe.

Well, now what are you waiting for? Get cooking!

One reply on “Recipe Review: Eggplant Puttanesca”

Confession: I’ve only cooked eggplant once (for a ratatouille), and the whole process was time consuming and a little overwhelming, but I’d like to give this a try because I’ve made a non-veggie pasta puttanesca that I really like–the olives and spiciness are delectable–and I think I should keep challenging myself culinarily speaking.

Leave a Reply