- 1 pound eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch slices
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to finish
- 3 cloves garlic, lightly smashed
- Leaves from 2 sprigs thyme or oregano, chopped
- 1 cup stock or water
- 1 pound long pasta noodles like spaghetti, linguine, or bucatini
- 2 tablespoons minced dried tomatoes
- 6 basil leaves, cut into a chiffonade
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Lightly salt the slices of eggplant, stack them back together, and let it all hang out for 20 minutes. This will season it and water will drop out, allegedly removing the bitterness, if it’s there.
- Meanwhile, pour the olive oil into a wide, heavy saucepan, add the garlic cloves, and set over low heat. You’re just trying to get them friendly with one another, so don’t worry if nothing happens for a while.
- Dry off the eggplant and cut it into chunks. When you start hearing the garlic sizzle a little and can smell it, drop in your eggplant and stir to coat it all with oil. Turn up the heat a little bit to medium-high, add the thyme, and stir. When the eggplant starts to turn translucent and soften, add the liquid and let it come to a boil, then turn it back down to medium-low. Let it bubble for a bit and cover it, leaving a crack for steam to escape. Stir once in a while, so the bottom doesn’t stick.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil, salt it, and cook the pasta to al dente.
- Meanwhile, check on the eggplant. The liquid should be mostly absorbed or reduced after about 20 minutes. Once it looks mashable, mash it up with a spoon, and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. It should be silky smooth and garlicky and eggplant and humming with oil.
- Drain the pasta and toss with the eggplant puree. Stir in the tomatoes and basil and gild the lily with some more oil to serve.