When the cayenne pepper plants were pulled out of the garden last weekend, there were several cups of peppers on the plants. We picked them all off, and will leave most to dry. Many are over four inches long and a brilliant bright red. David decided to make one last dish using some of those gigantic fresh cayenne peppers along with our Thai Long Green eggplant and Italian parsley from the garden.
We were worried about over-harvesting from our parsley plants so David bought a bunch at the grocery on the way home. When we compared our freshly picked parsley with its bright green leaves and strong aroma to the store-bought parsley which was totally lacking in taste or smell, we tossed the purchased parsley in the bin. Parsley should do more than add green specks to a dish. Fresh parsley provides a nice zing to cooked vegetables, and it is loaded with vitamins A and C, as well as iron, folate and calcium.
The dried pasta was from Rustichella d'Abruzzo, and we added one of our favorite cheeses, caciocavallo. Caciocavallo is a wonderful Italian cheese. We first tasted caciocavallo many years ago in Sicily where it originated. The texture is similar to fresh mozarella, although a little firmer, with a delicious smoky flavor. The "cavallo" suggests that at some point the cheese was made with horse's milk, but thankfully the milk now comes from cows or sheep. On a business trip to Brescia in northern Italy David actually ate "cavallo", but that discussion will be left for another day. For today, we are enjoying our pasta made with vegetables fresh from the garden with our "cheese on horseback".
Penne with Caciocavallo, Thai Eggplant and Cayenne Peppers
1 lb Thai Long Green eggplant (or other Asian-style),
3 garlic cloves, diced
5 Tbs Italian parsley, chopped
3 cayenne peppers, seeds removed and diced
(or 3 dried peppers, diced)
3 lbs fresh tomatoes, skinned, seeded and chopped
12 oz dried penne pasta
10 oz caciocavallo, grated
salt and black pepper to taste
- Loosen skins of tomatoes by placing tomatoes in boiling water 1 minute, then allow to cool. Remove skins and seeds, then chop tomatoes.
- Heat 3 T olive oil over medium low and saute garlic, parsley and chiles until garlic is browned (about 5 minutes). Add tomatoes and cook until a thick sauce, 20 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Saute eggplant in clean pan with olive oil over medium until brown on both sides. Remove and drain on paper towels.
- Boil pasta in salted water. Drain in collander, then add tomato sauce, eggplant and cheese. Add salt and peper to taste.