Eggplant Provencal over Penne Pasta is a simple and versatile dish that is absolutely delicious! … a terrific meatless dish that’s ready in under a half hour.
Before we get into the recipe… and what makes it versatile… let’s talk about Provencal. So what exactly is Provencal? Provencal or Provence refers to a region in France. According to Wikipedia it is a region of southeastern France on the Mediterranean adjacent to Italy. The cuisine consists of basic ingredients such as olives, olive oil, garlic, various fish, lamb and goat.
Some popular French dishes, such as bouillabaisse and ratatouille find its origins from this region. Ratatouille, the recipe made famous by the animated feature by the same name, has been a dish my family has made for years. In case you don’t remember, it is a vegetable stew known as a hearty “peasant” meal served often with crusty French bread.
The spice mixture known as Herbes de Provence or Provencal herbs is a mixture of dried herbs from Provence said to be “invented” in the 1970’s, invented used as a loose term since cooks from the region have used them in various quantities for years. They simply “standardized” the mixture.
The standard mixture contains savory, fennel, basil and thyme… other spices such as marjoram and lavender (lavender is only added in American mixes) are also included in some recipes. It was in the 1970s that standard mixtures were formulated by spice wholesalers, including Ducros in France which is now part of McCormick & Company... Although a quick search yields many different recipes... so much for a standard mixture!
The recipe for today is one that I found and adapted from a small soft cover book titled “Just Eggs” by Chef Express. The recipe is really a basic one and is versatile… it was intended to be a base for baked eggs… that will be a separate post. After reading the recipe, I decided it would be perfect to serve over penne pasta, and in keeping with the “leftover” theme of the last few days… I happened to have leftover penne in the fridge.
Grilled chicken or beef would be a great addition if you didn’t want this to be meatless… also the addition of chopped black olives would add great flavor as well.
The only adaptation I made was to add spice to the dish, the original was missing the Herbes de Provence and in my opinion was a bit bland for my tastes and what I am used to. I also used far less oil than the original recipe… it does not need a ¼ cup of oil.
As I mentioned, I had leftover penne pasta in the fridge, obviously you can boil a fresh batch of pasta for this dish. …
As far as reheating pasta, I know many sources say pasta does not reheat well… however… I have never had a problem reheating it… You can easily microwave it to reheat it… or do as I did… I needed a bit more pasta to have enough for another meal… I simply put the leftover pasta in a colander and when I went to drain the new batch.. I simply poured it over the leftovers… it worked fine.
My directions use a “pinch” of each of the herbs… taste the dish and add more according to your tastes… I was a little more heavy handed with the thyme and the basil… or if you have a commercial blend of Herbes de Provence… simply sprinkle it in the dish to your tastes.
Make sure you add the spices during cooking, not at the end… you want the flavors to infuse into the dish…. I often add the spices at the beginning when I add the oil to the skillet, but you can add it when you add the tomatoes and wine before the dish is simmered.
The directions call for 2-3 tablespoons of tomato paste… the original instructions used 3 tablespoons, I feel it made the mixture a bit too thick.. I use 2 tablespoons… however much you use is up to you.
The original recipe uses 4 large tomatoes chopped, I used 1 can of petite cut tomatoes instead.
For the white wine, I used a Sauvignon Blanc by Turning Leaf.
Make sure you use “unseasoned” tomato paste.. not a tomato paste with added herbs.. add the herbs in yourself.
Serve with fresh crusty bread.
I hope you try this delicious dish.
Recipe: Eggplant Provencal over Penne Pasta
All you need:
1 medium sized eggplant, peeled and chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 large garlic cloves finely minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 can (14.4 oz) Hunts Petite-cut Tomatoes
¼ cup white wine
Pinch or two of thyme
Pinch of savory
Pinch of fennel
Pinch or two of basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
Additional chopped fresh parsley for garnish
Cooked penne pasta
All you need to do:
In a large skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil.
Add the onions and garlic. Cook until the onions are soft, about 3 minutes. Be careful to make sure they don’t brown. Stir frequently.
Add the eggplant and toss to coat with the oil. You may have to add a bit more oil… no more than about a tablespoon.
Cook the eggplant, stirring frequently for about 5 minutes.
Add the remaining ingredients
And simmer for 10 minutes until eggplant is cooked but still slightly firm.
Spoon over cooked penne pasta and sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley (for garnish).
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