Thursday, August 5, 2010

Orecchiette with Marinated Eggplant, Burrata, and Chiles

Smoky grilled Japanese eggplant, spicy chiles, creamy burrata, and fragrant marjoram work beautifully together in this dish. The eggplant is marinated in red wine vinegar and herb-infused olive oil after it is grilled and is delicious on its own. To speed up the recipe you can grill and marinate the eggplant in advance, just refrigerate until you reheat prior to serving.

Orecchiette with Marniated Eggplant, Burrata, and Chiles

4 large Asian eggplants,  halved lengthwise (quartered lengthwise if they're huge) (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
Kosher salt
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
2 large garlic cloves, pressed or very thinly sliced
1 pound orecchiette
2 tablespoons freshly grated pecorino
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/2 pound burrata cheese, halved, creamy filling scooped out *
Zest of 1 lemon
2 oil-packed red chiles, cut into thin strips or chopped (seed the peppers to reduce spice level)
3 marjoram sprigs, plus 2 tablespoons marjoram leaves
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

*I scooped out the creamy filling for the main meal but topped the leftover pasta with the outer shell

-Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. Brush the cut sides of the halved eggplants with olive oil and season with salt. Grill the eggplants cut side down over moderate heat until lightly charred, about 5 minutes. Turn and continue grilling until just browned and cooked through, about 3 minutes longer.

-Let the eggplant cool. Dice and transfer to a bowl. Pour vinegar over the eggplant and toss well.

-In a small saucepan, combine the 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon of olive oil with garlic, marjoram sprigs, crushed red pepper and 2 teaspoons of kosher salt. Bring the oil to a simmer, then pour it over the eggplant and toss. Let stand for 1 hour. Discard the marjoram sprigs.

-In a pot of boiling salted water, cook the orecchiette until al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving 3/4 cup of the cooking water.

-Add the eggplant to the pot and cook over moderate heat, stirring lightly, until hot, about 1 minute.

-Add the orecchiette and the reserved cooking water and cook, tossing, for about 30 seconds. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the pecorino and parsley.

-Serve pasta and dot with the creamy burrata filling. Garnish with the lemon zest, chile strips and marjoram leaves and serve.

Adapted from Missy Robbins, Food & Wine Magazine

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