Skip to Content
Recipes

A Spicy Pasta Recipe with Eggplant, Capers, and Mint

Chef and Author Viola Buitoni shares a piquant pasta recipe from her cookbook, Italy by Ingredient.

10:00 AM EDT on September 18, 2023

Spicy Pasta with Eggplant, Capers, and Mint.

Eggplant, capers, and mint are a felicitous yet ubiquitous flavor combination whose parentage is impossible to attribute. I can't consciously call this recipe mine, but I can call it accessible and joyful. I like to use Japanese eggplants because they're virtually seedless and can be cut in just-the-right-size wheels, but feel free to use other kinds and slice them into manageable-size bites.

EDITOR'S NOTE: We have added the video below of Chef Buitoni's making this dish in the kitchen of Appetito's Editor-in-Chief Andrew Cotto. The complete production was provided by ProdCo+.

Spicy Pasta with Eggplant, Capers, and Mint

Spicy Pasta with Eggplant, Capers, and Mint

5 from 2 votes
Recipe by Viola Buitoni
Servings

4

servings
Prep time

5

minutes
Cooking time

12

minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp 3 capers packed in salt

  • 1 1 garlic clove

  • 1 1 Japanese eggplant (see headnote)

  • 4 tablespoons 4 extra-virgin olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons 2 tomato concentrate (or paste)

  • 1/2 cup 1/2 loosely packed mint leaves

  • salt as needed

  • Red chili flakes

  • 1 pound 1 short pasta (like ziti or cavatelli)

Directions

  • Fill a pot with 3 quarts of water and cover it.
  • Set it over high heat to come to a boil.
  • Put the capers into a tea strainer and run under hot water to melt away all the visible salt.
  • Rinse well and leave to soak in warm water while you are readying the rest of the ingredients.
  • Peel the garlic clove and leave it whole.
  • Slice the eggplant as thinly as possible into rounds.
  • Pour 3 tablespoons of the oil into a frying pan large enough to contain the eggplant slices in a single layer and place it over medium heat.
  • Place a plate next to the stove and line it with a paper towel.
  • When the fragrance of oil hits your nostrils decisively, add the eggplant and pan fry until the slices become pliant and glossy.
  • Lift a slice from the oil with tongs and if it has some brown, caramelized spots, turn it over and panfry the other side.
  • Transfer the eggplant slices to the paper-towel-lined plate.
  • Drain the capers and toss them into the oil used to cook the eggplant.
  • Add the garlic clove, tomato concentrate and 6 or 7 mint leaves of mint then douse with 2 cups of hot water.
  • Season with chili to best suit your glee for heat.
  • Stir well to dilute the concentrate, turn the heat on to medium, and let simmer to reduce by about one-third.
  • Season the boiling water with 1 tablespoon salt, stir in the pasta, and cover the pot. Set a timer for 2 minutes shy of the suggested cooking time.
  • When the water starts to boil again, remove the lid and adjust the heat so that the water is at a lively but not rolling boil.
  • The sauce will be ready in the time it takes the pasta to cook. It should be loosely velvety in appearance, runny but not watery.
  • Sample the sauce and adjust the salt to your liking.
  • Return the eggplant to the pan.
  • When the timer goes off, fish the ziti out of the water with a handheld strainer and add them to the sauce, with 2 to 3 tablespoons of the pasta cooking water.
  • Raise the heat to the highest setting and toss and twirl the pasta for an additional minute or two to finish cooking.

Did you make this recipe?

Tag @appetitomagazine on Instagram and hashtag it with #italianfoodanddrink

Like this recipe?

Follow @Appetitomagazine on Pinterest

Follow us on Facebook!

Follow us on Facebook

Already a user?Log in

Thanks for reading!

Register to continue

See all subscription options

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Appetito

A Pastry Chef’s Italian Pantry

A pastry chef and Appetito contributor shares the Italian delicacies she keeps in her pantry for snacking or last-minute desserts.

March 4, 2024

Gluten-Free Cannoli Brownie Bites

Finding tasty gluten-free desserts can be challenging, but that’s about to change. Make these cannoli brownies from Lindsay Grimes’ groundbreaking new cookbook Something Sweet for an Italian-influenced gluten-free treat.

February 28, 2024

Ascoli Piceno is a Haven for Aperitivo and Apericena

Our contributor explains the culinary treasure to be found in the aperitivo and apericena culture of Ascoli Piceno in Le Marche.

February 28, 2024
See all posts