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Eggplant takes center stage in the deconstructed version of an old standard

By Brenda Stanley

For the Deseret News

Published: Friday, Nov. 15 2013 12:52 p.m. MST

Belle's Eggplant Rigatoni

Brenda Stanley

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Autumn is the time of pumpkins, apples and other fall fruits and vegetables, and one you probably don’t think about this time of year is eggplant. Fall is eggplant season. This beautiful glossy purple vegetable is high in nutrients and fiber, and contains almost no fat or calories. It is versatile and yet many people have never even tried it.

I love to add chopped eggplant to my stir-fry dishes, or roast cubes with olive oil and salt, and one of my favorite eggplant recipes is a simpler and healthier version of the old standard, eggplant Parmesan. This dish is not breaded or baked. It is a simple and hearty dish that combines rich marinara, cheese, pasta and the newest member of the fall season favorites — eggplant.

Belle’s Eggplant Rigatoni

1 medium eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 onion, chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon minced garlic

¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 cups marinara sauce

1 plum tomato, chopped

1/2 pound rigatoni pasta

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

¼ cup finely grated Parmesan

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. In a large skillet, over medium-high heat, sauté the eggplant, onion and 1 teaspoon salt until the eggplant is tender. Add the garlic and red pepper and cook about 2 more minutes.

Pour the marinara and chopped tomatoes over the eggplant mixture and stir to combine. Simmer about 10 minutes. Cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain and add to the eggplant mixture. Add the basil, mozzarella and parmesan cheese. Stir well. When cheese has melted slightly, it is ready to serve.

Brenda Stanley is the mother of five children, including two sets of twins, and a grandmother of three. She is a cookbook author, including the recently released "That's a Lot of Crock!" and novelist. Her website is at talesofthedinnerbelle.com.

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