pasta with eggplant and sausage

this recipe is from two meatballs in the italian kitchen by pino luongo and mark strausman


3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium red onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
8 oz sweet italian sausages (about 2), removed from casings and crumbled
1/2 dry white wine
1 large eggplant or 4 small sicilian eggplants (about 1.25 lb), cut into 1/2″ dice
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and cute into 1/2″ dice
1 28-oz can italian plum tomatoes, preferably san marzano, with their juice, pureed in a food mill or food processor
1 tsp dried oregano, preferably sicilian
2 tbsp plus 1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp crushed hot red pepper, or more to taste
2 tbsp chopped fresh italian parsley
fresh ground pepper
1 lb rigatoni or mezzemaniche
1/4 cup (1 oz) freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese

heat a 10″-12″ skillet over medium heat. when it is hot, add the olive oil, onion, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and beginning to color, 5-7 minutes. add the sausage and cook, stirring frequently and breaking it into small bits with a wooden spoon, until it loses its raw color, about 4 minutes. add the wine and bring to a boil. add the eggplant and bell pepper, reduce the heat to medium, and cook until most of the wine has evaporated, about 5 minutes.


add the tomatoes, oregano, 1 tsp of salt, and the hot pepper flakes. reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the pan, and cook for 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are very soft.

stir in the parsley and cook, uncovered, until the sauce is thick and well combined, about 6 minutes. season with salt and black pepper to taste. transfer the sauce to a large warmed serving bowl.

while the sauce is cooking, fill a 10-quart stock pot with 7 quarts of water and bring to a boil over high heat. add the remaining 2 tbsp kosher salt. add the pasta, stir, and cook until al dente.


reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water and drain the pasta. add it to the bowl with the sauce and toss to combine. if the pasta looks dry, add the reserved cooking water, 1 tbsp at a time, tossing to combine between additions. sprinkle with parmagiano reggiano and serve immediately.

comments: cameron says this is one of the best pastas he’s had in his life! i also agree that is a really excellent recipe. we splurged and went with the de cecco pasta ($4/lb.) and the san marzano tomatoes ($5 for 28-oz can). we could both tell the de cecco pasta tasted different than the brands we usually buy; i’m still not sure if i can taste the san marzano tomatoes, but pino and mark say they are really good, and they probably are. my palette is not that refined… usually i am just stuffing my face with food. anyway, great recipe!

test cake for wedding cake #2

so i’m making another wedding cake. this one is for laura and alex. it’s going to be chocolate with orange butter cream. the cake came out pretty well:


here’s the 6″ cake i made for laura’s shower:


i tried to copy the pixelated heart that was on their invite:


kinda ran out of time though so it came out a little sloppy. anyway, it tasted pretty good. the chocolate cake was light and not too sweet. the orange butter cream had some marmalade + orange juice concentrate. i forgot to buy orange liqueur though. next time gotta put that in.

yay so we got married on pi day and had a really nice wedding. it was nice to see everyone, especially friends and family from the mainland. everyone said the food was really good too, but i couldn’t eat that much 🙁 note to anyone getting married – find a stretchy dress so you can eat. here we are enjoying our wedding pie.


being married isn’t that different, but the big change is we moved! it’s a nice little apartment. our kitchen is kinda small, but so far we like it a lot. it’s nice having our own fridge 🙂 we also have a huge lanai (balcony) so i want to grow some plants out there.

anyway, for the first week we lived here, our fridge was very sad – it only had water, caprisun, and bbq sauce. we went out for like every meal that week since our friends from the mainland were around and we hadn’t bought any groceries yet. after we bought groceries, we were planning on making the red onion spaghetti for our first cooked dinner in the apartment, but we forgot to buy cheese, so here’s what we had instead:

first meal cooked in new apartment

some portuguese sausage, eggs, and toast. not bad at all. and here’s breakfast the next morning:


some kinda burned portuguese sausage, hashbrowns, and french bread. our hash browns were kinda soaked in oil… really gross actually, but next time they’ll be better. we were still getting used to the stove. i think after this we didn’t eat anymore portuguese sausage 🙂

the next day we made the spaghetti and salad:


i think the day after that we made sausage and peppers. and then we made mom’s pork chops:


look how nice and brown they got in the nice all clad pan from my brother. yum yum yum. hmm i don’t think i’ve posted that recipe yet. next time i’ll do that.

we also made some red curry, had some leftover steaks from someone’s house. so far has been good. i thought cooking for two people would be harder, but so far it is not too bad. gotta learn to scale back on buying vegetables though. some green beans we bought went bad already 🙁 so far that is the only casualty.

and cameron (aka mr. i don’t eat leftovers) volunteered to eat leftovers twice this week! pretty amazing!

anyway, once we get settled in we’ll start trying new recipes again. for now we are sticking with our old favorites 🙂

updated pad thai

last week i made atk’s simplified pad thai again with some additions that everyone liked.

pad thai

added some chicken, shredded carrots, cilantro, and chopped red cabbage. added a lot more visual appeal plus more textures. it was significantly better than before, when we just stuck straight to the atk recipe. actually recently we have noticed that we’ve improved a lot as cooks. new recipes are easier now and turn out better the first time, and old recipes taste better and better. it’s nice reaping tasty rewards 🙂

spaghetti with onion and tomato sauce

this is the first recipe we tried from our new cookbook two meatballs in the italian kitchen by pino luongo and mark strausman. so far we really like the book. every chapter begins with some useful tips/background info and really interesting and insightful discussions between pino and mark. they’re funny and always disagreeing with each other because pino grew up in italy and is very traditional while mark grew up in queens and has a more american take on italian food. i think their great care for the food and that tension between their cooking styles must have helped them put together this great book of recipes.

spaghetti with onion and tomato sauce
(spaghetti al rustico di cipolle) from pino luongo and mark strausman

spaghetti with onion and tomato sauce

2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
2 cups canned italian plum tomatoes, preferably san marzano, with their juice, pureed in a food precessor or food mill
2 tbsp plus 1 tsp kosher salt
1 lb. spaghetti or linguine
1/4 cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1. place the butter in a 10-12″ skillet over medium heat. add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until soft, about 5 minutes. add the tomatoes and 1 tsp of the salt. when the mixture starts to bubble, reduce the heat to very low and cook at a bare simmer for 5 minutes. remove from the heat and set aside.

2. while the sauce is cooking, fill a 10-quart stockpot with 7 quarts of water and bring to a boil over high heat. add the remaining 2 tbsp kosher salt. add the pasta, stir, and cook until al dente.

3. reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water, and drain the pasta. add the pasta to the skillet with the sauce. if the pasta looks dry, add the reserved cooking 1 tbsp at a time, tossing to combine between additions. while still tossing the pasta and sauce, slowly sprinkle on the cheese, and toss until all the cheese is incorporated. the dish should look creamy and moist. serve immediately, drizzling each portion with a little bit of olive oil.

comments: this is a great recipe. kind of amazing how such simple ingredients make such a great dish. this recipe totally makes me want to try all the other recipes in the book too. make this delicious spaghetti. make it now. this one is definitely going to be something we make regularly.