Smoky Eggplant Pasta

It feels wrong to grill an eggplant whole until it is charred and collapsing, but the smoky flavor it picks up during the long cook is what adds depth of flavor to this pasta. Plus, the eggplant puree freezes perfectly so you can use it in lots of ways all winter long.

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4 eggplant
1/2 cup olive oil
1 lb dried long pasta like spaghetti or fettucine
1 bunch basil
2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved
1 ball fresh mozzarella or 4 oz goat cheese (optional)


  1. Heat a grill to medium heat
  2. Prick the whole eggplant all over with a pairing knife
  3. Grill over indirect heat until the eggplant is deeply charred and the flesh collapses when pushed
  4. Remove from the grill and place into a bowl and cover to let steam for 10 minutes
  5. Cut the stem off the eggplant and scoop out the tender flesh, leaving the burnt skin behind
  6. In a food processor, blend the eggplant pulp with olive oil and a couple big pinches of salt to make a creamy puree
  7. Boil the pasta in heavily salted water until al dente
  8. Dress the just cooked pasta with the eggplant puree and a couple of spoonfuls of the pasta cooking water
  9. Transfer the dressed pasta to a serving dish
  10. Top with the halved cherry tomatoes, torn basil leaves and dots of goat cheese or cubes of the fresh mozzarella if using