Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Smothered Eggplant Sauce Recipe

We have had great success with our eggplants this growing season.  We have been harvesting lots of these medium sized delicious eggplants for weeks now.  We both love eggplant Parm, Baba Ghanoush, fried eggplant, caponata and many other eggplant based recipes.  That said, one of our favorite tomato sauces ever is this luscious blend of good tomatoes and melting chunks of eggplant.  It goes by a number of names:  Nona Sauce, Summer Sauce and Melanzana Affogata (smothered eggplant).

A number of years ago we had dinner at a friends home.  She is an amazing cook and we always learn something from her, along with having fabulous dinners.  Our pasta course that evening was Penne with Nona Sauce.  We could not figure out what the "secret" ingredient to the delicious silky sauce was. Finally she told us. We've been hooked - seriously hooked - ever since.

You can make this with fresh tomatoes or really good (San Maranzano) canned tomatoes. For this recipe I used canned tomatoes.


3 1/2 pounds of really good canned tomatoes 
2 pounds of firm eggplants
1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
Approx 1 1/2 cups of finely chopped onions
1 - 2 teaspoons salt
2 garlic cloves finely chopped
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of dried red pepper flakes ("quanto basta" - as much as you like)
3 large Basil branches


Trim and peel the eggplants - it's your call re: the skin.  I like to do a "striped" peeling so I get some of the skin into the recipe. It all depends on the type of eggplant you are using.

Cut the eggplant into 3/4 inch chunks

Over medium heat, Stir together the oil, the onions, and a 1/4 teaspoon salt 
Cook for about 5 minutes stirring frequently, until soft
Add the chopped garlic into the center of the pan - push the onion to the sides - until it just begins to brown

Stir in a tablespoon of water, stir everything together and cook for another minute

Add the eggplant cubes to the pan, sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and turn well so that the eggplant cubes get coated with the oil, onion, and garlic

Cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently for about 10-12 minutes until the cubes are very soft but not mushy.  If the mixture begins to get dry during the 10-12 minutes, add a bit of water - the eggplant needs the moisture to cook.

Pour in the tomatoes and their juices.  Add one and a half tomato cans full of water to the pot; swirl the water in the can to get all of the tomato sauce.

Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon over the mixture
Add the red pepper flakes
Stir to blend every thing together
Submerge the Basil branches down into the sauce

Cover the pan and raise the heat to medium

When the sauce boils, lower the heat to a simmer and cook, covered, for at least 40 minutes. Stir occasionally. 

You want to see the eggplant breaking down and melting into the sauce

Uncover the pot and let the sauce reduce, while stil on simmer - for about 35 - 40 additional minutes, stirring frequently.

When the sauce is the consistency you want, pull out the basil branches and toss them

Note:  this sauce is going to be thick and rich.  Sauces like this are best with shaped pasta, such as Penne, Farfalla, bow ties, etc.

1 comment:

  1. I'm going to make this tonight. Just picked up some eggplant and have many, many cans of wonderful san marzano tomatoes in the cupboard, of course.