Eggplant on 74th street

Tiny little eggplants with the enviable skin of an apple in October and a shade of purple glowing white to violet, in a way that I have only ever seen on my own eyelids in the early 80’s, stole my heart at the Indian grocery last week. I squeaked and cooed at them and then bought them up like candy.
Slice up the eggplants and lay them on sheet pan drizzled with olive oil you can proud of. Season with salt and pepper and give them another drizzle of olive oil over the top. Bake or broil them at 400 degrees. You can’t be shy with the garlic. Sliver up 3 hefty cloves and get them going in a heavy pan with olive oil. In close to the same moment as the garlic hits the pan, drop in torn fresh basil leaves. Add a minute amount of red pepper flakes, or a whole pepperoncino if you can count on yourself not to lose it in the sauce. Smash a whole can of San Marzano tomatoes with your hands or any other serious tool you have. Add this to the oil, taste for salt and pepper and let it simmer while the water comes to a boil for the pasta. Check the eggplant. When they are done, they should have no more whiteness and be heading towards golden. It can happen in stages, so be ready to pull some off the pan and stick the rest back in the oven. Roughly chop a ball of fresh mozzarella. If you can find mozzarella di bufala, even better. Let it drain if it needs to. Grate a good handful of Parmigiano Reggiano. Add about 3/4 of the box of a good De Cecco or quality brand pasta. Be sure the water is salted. Cook til al dente (the white line when you bite into the noodle is nearly visible, but just nearly.) Drain well. Add it back to the pot, and stir in enough sauce, the eggplant (chop it first if you like) the parmesan, and the mozzarella. Rip in a little more basil or even a tiny bit of chopped parsley.
If you have the chance, get yourself to 74th Street in Jackson Heights and go shopping.

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