If you are in the mood for a good fresh vegetarian pasta with a kick then this pasta should be in your short list of candidates.


It’s not the fastest dish to make. it does take a bit of preparation and good cooking time. I would give it about an hour for a good sauce. More if you have time.

For the ingredients (feeds 2-3 people):

Below the steps to put it together. I usually overlap a few steps to make things quicker. You should do how it would work best for you.

Step 1: Prepare the eggplant. If you don’t “dry” the eggplant you will see that they will not cook properly. I honestly don’t know the chemistry behind this (I should look it up), but empirically speaking it is better to dry them. There are different ways to do it. You can cover the eggplant with rock salt for a few hours. You will see that the salt absorbs the water out of the eggplant. This is probably the best approach, but it is too time consuming so I use a different one. I simply put them on a hot non-stick pan and keep them there for a few mins (about 2 mins each side).

Preparing the eggplant

Step 2: Get the sauce going. This is classic approach, that I have discussed a few times in my previous postings. Start the “soffritto” with the olive oil, chopped onion, slices carrots and celery. In the meantime slice the eggplant that you prepared above. When the soffritto is ready (the onion turns translucent) add the the eggplant to the mix. Stir it well. After couple of minutes add a little a little wine. I use red wine. I have used some balsamic vinegar in the past. If you use wine you just need 1\2 a glass. Couple of pix:

Cucina di Max Cucina di Max - Italian cooking

Step 3: Finishing the sauce. Once the eggplant look good add some of the freshed chopped tomato (it gives it a touch of freshness) and let it cook for two minutes. At this point add the crushed tomatotoes and the spices. Let is simmer it for about 30mins .You could leave it simmering more, up to 45-60mins. Just make sure that it does not get too dry…you could add some water (use the pasta water) to balance it. The sauce is done!

Cucina di Max - Italian cooking

Step 4: Pasta and sauce come together. As the sauce is in the last minutes of cooking you can start boiling the pasta. Once the pasta is done you can just drain it and mix it with the sauce. Cook it together for about a minute and your dish it ready to go!!!

Enjoy it!

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I was due for a good dinner for Hellai (my girlfriend) and I finally put it together last Th.  I made couple of things: a seafood appetizer and pasta with eggplant (one of Hellai’s favorites).  I will cover the pasta with eggplant in the next post.   In this one we’ll cover the super-easy platter I put together.

Seafood Appetizer 

The platter contained:

  • Shrimp cooked with Jack Daniels
  • Shrimp cocktail
  • Scallops with basil oil
  • Scallops with peppercord mustard
  • Guazzetto di cozze e vongole

The ingredients are self-explanatory from the picture above.  Make sure that you get good quality seafood…it makes the difference.

Here’re the directions:

  • For the shrimp cooked with Jack Daniels:  get a nice tiger prawn and cook it in a medium heat non-stick pan (no oil or anything else). Add a little jack daniel at the time as the shrimp is cooking.   I served the shrimp over a very simple spinach salad (with oil and lemon)
  • On a grill cook couple of scallops.  Take some peppercorn mustard and serve it next to one of the scallops.  For the other one you can easily some basil olive oil.  In the food processor put some basil (don’t be shy!) and olive oil (don’t be shy!) and blend it together.  You could add a bit of pepper.  I did not try lemon, but you could.  Just rest the scallop over some of the crushed basil and cover the scallop with the oil.
  • For the shrimp cocktail make sure you get good fresh shrimp meat.  It’a s little more expensive, but it tastes better and for the quantity it’s not overly expensive.  For the sauce you can pick the one you like the best.  I made my own.  Just some mayonese, ketchup, worchester sauce and pepper.
  • For the guazzetto you can just read my previous post: https://cucina.wordpress.com/2006/05/05/guazzetto-di-cozze-e-vongole/

One thing I forgot to mention is that this platter is really quick to make.  If you multi-task effectively you can make everything in about 15mins.

Enjoy your meal!