You need a few more perfect sauces in your repertoire and you know it. No matter what you’re making, there’s a sauce out there just waiting to make it better, enhance its natural appeal and make you look like a rock star of a chef. Pick up a copy of The Art of the Perfect Sauce and make this Japanese eggplant and roasted tomato sauce.
We like to grill the eggplant for this sauce because it lends a smoky, almost meaty quality to the sauce. This is an excellent do-ahead sauce because you can cook the eggplant earlier in the day or the day before and complete the sauce after the tomatoes come out of the oven. We use Japanese eggplant for this sauce because it is thin-skinned and not as bitter as Italian varieties. This sauce is just as good at room temperature as it is hot. Use this sauce as a different twist on traditional tomato-based pasta sauces.
- 1 pound Japanese eggplant, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
- 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 2 sprigs thyme, chopped
- 1 cup vegetable stock
- 6 leaves basil, cut finely
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the sauce
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Lightly brush the eggplant slices with some of the olive oil and sear on a hot grill, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Place the eggplant on a cookie sheet to cool. When they are cool enough to handle, roughly chop the eggplant and set aside in a large bowl.
In another bowl, toss together the cherry tomatoes, garlic, remaining olive oil and thyme. Place the tomatoes flat side down on a non-stick sheet pan. Cook in the oven for about 30 to 40 minutes. Remove and cool.
Scrape the grilled Japanese eggplant and tomatoes into the bowl of a food processer and add the vegetable stock, basil, salt and pepper. Process to a rough paste.
Scrape this mixture into a medium saucepan and place over medium heat. Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes so the flavors combine and set aside to cool completely. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Serve over heartier pasta such as penne or fusilli or over grilled asparagus.