Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Penne with Caciocavallo, Thai Eggplant and Cayenne Peppers

Although the temperatures have dropped and fall vegetable seeds are started in the garden, the summer eggplant harvest continues.  This year we have become particularly fond of Thai Long Green eggplant due to its firm texture, mild flavor, and lack of seeds.  The plants are also extremely prolific, with an almost constant supply of new eggplants from just two plants.  It is one of those vegetable plants that is great both for the garden and the kitchen.

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),
                               sliced thinly
                               olive oil
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

  1. Loosen skins of tomatoes by placing tomatoes in boiling water 1 minute, then allow to cool.  Remove skins and seeds, then chop tomatoes.
  2. 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.
  3. Saute eggplant in clean pan with olive oil over medium until brown on both sides.  Remove and drain on paper towels.
  4. Boil pasta in salted water.  Drain in collander, then add tomato sauce, eggplant and cheese.  Add salt and peper to taste.



  1. This sounds delicious! I love that all the vegetables are from your very own garden. So many interesting dishes on your blog -- looking forward to reading more!

  2. Yum! I love the shape of that bowl in your photo. And I totally agree with you on fresh-from-the-garden parsley vs. grocery parsley. My garden parsley is such a joy to have! I'll be sad when the winter kills it and I have to wait until spring to enjoy it again.

  3. First time I've heard of caciocavallo - now I'm on a quest to find it and create something with it!

  4. This dish really looks appetising! Love the long eggplants :)

  5. This looks delicious, but I must comment also on how fun that background is! Pretty colors!


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