Monday, July 14, 2014

Penne Pasta with Pesto Sauce, Turkey Ham Cubes and Fried Eggplant Strips

My father never used to eat the same dish twice. It's a habit you can't easily change, I know. Nobody can claim that it causes waste either. On the contrary, with such a person in the house, you learn to cook for the exact number of people in your family which in return saves time and money. My mother has been obviously doing such an excellent job for years in the kitchen. 

I've also got into a similar habit of cooking for the exact number of people at home. I don't like seeing leftovers in storage boxes in different sizes whenever I open the fridge. Mine is mostly because of the desire to cook something new, I guess. I cook, we eat up and then I cook something new the next day, all fresh. I feel that's how it should be in every kitchen. 

However, whenever Jamie Oliver posts a recipe which uses leftovers, for example, I regret that I don't have any leftovers in the fridge. Then, a couple of days ago, I had the perfect chance to create my own leftover recipe. I had slices of deep-fried eggplant, some turkey ham and half a jar of organic pesto sauce. It took a minute or so to decide how to combine them in a perfect dish for dinner: 
Penne Pasta with pesto sauce, sautéed turkey ham and fried eggplant. 


500 grams penne pasta

water, salt, olive oil to cook the pasta

5 tablespoons pesto sauce

turkey ham

butter, oregano, rosemary and ground red pepper

1 eggplant

salt, pepper, garlic powder, flour, 1 large egg, vegetable oil to fry

Directions for the pasta

1. In a large saucepan cook pasta according to package directions in lightly salted boiling water. Drain pasta and transfer to a very large bowl.

2. Add in the pesto sauce and mix until the pasta turn green in colour. 

Directions for the turkey ham cubes

1. Cut 4 or 5 thick slices off the ham. Cube the ham slices. 

2. Put a small frying pan on a low heat and let it get it hot. Add a small knob of butter. when the butter has melted and is bubbling, add your ham cubes and saute them until they get light brown. 

3. Sprinkle over oregano, rosemary and ground red pepper. Stir for a few minutes more until the ham cubes are covered in spices. Remove from heat. 

Directions for fried eggplant slices

1. Peel away its tough outer skin. Cut it into lengthwise slices. 

2. Salt the slices generously and lay them flat over a few layers of paper towels.* 

3. Let the salted eggplant sit for at least 1/2 hour or up to 1 1/2 hours. Rinse the eggplant under cold water to remove the excess salt. Then press the eggplant between clean kitchen towels or paper towels to extract as much liquid as possible. 
4. Whisk the egg in one container and place flour in another. Add in salt, pepper and garlic powder to the flour. Coat the eggplant slices in flour, then coat with egg. 

    5. Heat oil in a frying pan. Cook the coated eggplant slices until golden brown on both sides. Transfer to a plate with paper towels to cool. When cool enough to handle, cut 1 cm strips.

Assembling the dish
Transfer the pasta into a big serving dish. Add in the ham cubes and top with strips of eggplant. 

* Salt will help to draw the bitter liquid out from the eggplant while simultaneously seasoning the eggplant from the inside out. It also helps the eggplant pieces stay more shapely and become tender during cooking instead of becoming water-logged and soggy.

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