If you are looking for a pasta recipe with something other than tomato sauce, here it is. Roasted eggplant, spinach, black olives, a pinch of hot pepper, and fresh lemon make an unusual combination—and a very good sauce.
2 large whole eggplants, 1 ½ pound each
3 garlic cloves
4 cups spinach leaves
½ cup firmly packed parsley leaves
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional for filming the pan
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried hot pepper flakes
Juice of 3 lemons
1 cup chicken broth
1 ½ pounds fusilli
1 cup pitted Gaeta olives
½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
¼ cup drained capers
Position an oven rack in the upper third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.
Prick the eggplants once or twice with a fork and place them on a baking sheet. Roast for about 1 hour. Let cool until they can be handled. Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise, scoop out all the pulp, and put into a bowl. (You should have about 2 ½ cups.) Discard the skins.
Peel, trim, and slice the garlic. Wash and pat teh spinach dry; cut off and discard the stems. Chop the leaves coarsely. Rinse the parsley, pat it dry, and chop coarsely.
In a large skillet, cook the garlic in ½ cup olive oil over low heat, stirring until softened, but do not let it brown. Lower the heat, add the eggplant pulp, salt, pepper flakes, and lemon juice and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the chicken broth and stir well, and voer the pan. Cook the sauce, stirring once or twice, for 15 minutes.
In a medium skillet, heat enough olive oil, over medium heat, to just film the pan. Add the chopped spinach leaves and cook for 1 or 2 minutes, just until wilted. Remove the pan from the heat and let stand at room temperature.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta, stir to separate, and cook over high heat for 10 minutes, until al dente. (Or follow the cooking directions on the package.) Drain the pasta in a colander. To prevent the pasta from sticking together, spread it out on a large baking sheet or platter and let it cool, about 15 minutes. Cover and hold at room temperature for up to 3 hours.
Turn the pasta into a large serving bowl. Add the eggplant sauce, spinach, olives, parsley, Parmigiano, and capers, if using, and toss well to combine. Best served within 1 hour of finishing.