Grilled Eggplant, Bacon, Tomato and Basil Penne

Our potager has yielded a nice crop of japanese eggplant and tomatoes, so in spite of the nausea, I got creative with dinner last night. For once in my life, I truly created a successful recipe that is not in existence. Sure, I regularly cook with creative license and liberality, but that's usually just a bit of tweaking. No, this time...this time, I don't even know what to call this wonder of a one-bowl pasta dish. How about grilled-eggplant-with-a-rich-and-fragrant-bacony-tomato-basil-penne. That should do it.

Grilled Eggplant, Bacon, Tomato and Basil Penne
Recipe Type: Entree
Author: Ruth Simons
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
Total time: 40 mins
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1 large eggplant, or 4 medium japanese eggplants
  • 4 slices thick-cut bacon
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 3 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 (12 oz) can peeled tomatoes in juice (diced with chili seasoning)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • dried chili pepper flakes (optional)
  • shredded parmesan for serving
  • 17.5 oz penne pasta
Instructions
  1. Cook penne per instructions. Al dente, drained, rinsed, and set aside.
  2. Fire up the grill.
  3. Cut off end of eggplant, and slice at diagonal into 1/2 inch pieces. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, and place on grill. Grill approximately 4 minutes a side.
  4. Cut bacon into 1/2 inch pieces.
  5. In a large saucepan or dutch oven, cook bacon until almost crisp (fat rendered). Add diced onion and minced garlic to the bacon and fat. Saute until onions are translucent and browned, scraping bits from the bottom of pan. Add a drizzle of olive oil, and continue scraping.
  6. Add fresh tomatoes, and cook down for a 2 minutes, stirring continually.
  7. Deglaze pan with 1/2 cup red wine, and add canned tomato with juice.
  8. Add sugar, spices and herbs, and simmer on medium heat for 5 minutes.
  9. Casually chop grilled eggplant into 1/2 inch pieces, and add to the simmering sauce. Combine thoroughly and simmer for another 2 minutes.
  10. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste.
  11. Remove from heat, and add drained penne to the sauce. Combine well, and add salt if needed. Add red pepper flakes or serve on the side as garnish.
  12. Serve each bowl with a generous sprinkling of shredded parmesan.
  13. Enjoy!