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The Vegetarian

Herbs Are in Abundance for Tasty Pasta Sauces

July 23, 1987|DIANA SHAW

It's a shock to find how swiftly options diminish with time. Lately I've started to take note of things that I will not be able to accomplish in my life.

For instance, on a recent visit to an Italian grocery I realized that I will never get around to satisfying both my cravings for the pastas I've tried already and my curiosity about new varieties. Pastas are proliferating in inverse proportion to the number of meals I can reasonably expect in the years I have left, so I can only hope that there's pasta in heaven.

Summer is my favorite time for pasta because the season offers an optimal selection of herbs and vegetables for sauces, like this one, adapted from "Good Tastes" by Sherry Golden (Knopf: 1985).

EGGPLANT-CAPER SAUCE FOR PASTA

1 medium onion, chopped

1 sweet red pepper, chopped

1 green pepper, chopped

1 yellow pepper, chopped, optional

4 cloves garlic, crushed and minced

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 cups tomato pulp, fresh or canned, chopped

1 cup vegetable stock or 3/4 cup water and 1/4 cup white wine

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced

2 tablespoons fresh basil, minced

Seasoned Eggplant Puree

3/4 tablespoon capers

Salt, freshly ground pepper

1 pound pasta of choice, cooked al dente

Freshly grated Parmesan or provolone cheese, or crumbled feta cheese

Saute onion, peppers and garlic in olive oil until onion turns translucent. Add tomato pulp and stock and cook about 10 minutes until liquid is reduced. Add parsley, basil, eggplant puree and capers and season to taste with salt and pepper. Heat through, but do not boil.

Serve over pasta, with cheese. Makes 4 servings.

Seasoned Eggplant Puree

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, crushed and minced

2 medium eggplants or 4 Japanese eggplants, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch-thick rounds

1/4 cup fresh basil, minced

2 tablespoons water

Heat olive oil in skillet and saute onion and garlic until onion is translucent. Add eggplants and saute until begin to turn dark. Add basil and water. Stir, then cover and cook until eggplant is tender.

Puree in food processor or blender. Use in pasta sauces, as filling for crepes, or cold as dip with pita bread and raw vegetables.

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