Fusilli Melanzana is a meatless pasta dish tossed with roasted eggplant, garlic, plum tomatoes, onions and fresh basil.
Fusilli shaped pasta is my favorite! It's long like spaghetti and is tightly curled; making it perfect for twirling and holding its texture. Growing up, Sunday was "pasta day"; like many Italian families.
My stepmom would have a big pot of Neapolitan Ragú on the stove for HOURS. My father would go to Lodi to get Semolina bread that was freshly made and still warm; perfect for slathering butter and dipping into the sauce! And 90% of the time, fusilli would be our pasta of choice.
Over Christmas, my husband and I went to get some homemade bread at one of the BEST Italian markets in NJ for holiday entertaining and saw they had packages of fusilli on the shelf. Of course I had to purchase a few bags and made Fusilli Melanzana.
What is Fusilli?
Fusilli are a variety of pasta that are formed into corkscrew shapes. It's formed by pressing and rolling a small rod over the thin strips of pasta to wind them around it in a corkscrew shape.
Are Fusilli and Rotini the same?
Fusilli and Rotini are not the same; however some pasta brands often label them as such.
The key to distinguishing the two is that fusilli is made of long strands of pasta that have been twisted into little spring-like shapes, while rotini is typically shorter and more loosely twisted.
An example would be Rotini con Broccoli. Though the noodles are still twisted, rotini have a looser "curl" and are shorter in size.
What does Melanzana mean?
Melanzana (aka Melanzane) means eggplant or aubergine in Italian. Some of my favorite recipes that include eggplant are Chicken Melanzana, Eggplant Caponata and of course, Eggplant Parmesan.
For this recipe you'll need the following ingredients:
- fusilli pasta
- eggplant, diced
- plum tomatoes, diced
- garlic, minced
- red onion, diced
- fresh basil, chopped
- grated pecorino romano cheese
- kosher salt
- black pepper
How do you make Fusilli Melanzana?
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Add the eggplant, tomatoes, garlic, onion, basil and EVOO to a mixing bowl; toss to coat. Place the vegetables on a roasting pan and cook 15 minutes until softened.
While the vegetables are roasting, bring a large pot of water with a little salt to a rolling boil over high heat; then add the pasta and cook according to package directions.
Drain the pasta reserving 1 cup of pasta water on the side; then place the pasta back in the pot. Typical long fusilli will take about 15-20 minutes to cook al dente once the water is boiling.
Add the cooked vegetables and grated cheese; toss to coat and serve hot with garlic bread and a tossed salad.
Like I mentioned earlier, fusilli is sometimes hard to find; however, you can use any pasta of your choice and adjust the cooking times so that you don't over or undercook the pasta.
Some good pasta substitutions would be rotini, farfalle, rigatoni, spaghetti or linguine. If plum tomatoes are too costly or not in season, you can use a can of fire roasted diced tomatoes.
This pasta with eggplant or Fusilli Melanzana is super flavorful, takes about 30 minutes to make and makes a tasty meal any day of the week.
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- 1 pound fusilli pasta
- 1 large eggplant (approx. 5-6 cups diced)
- 6 plum tomatoes (diced)
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- ½ cup red onion (peeled, diced)
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup reserved pasta water
- ¼ cup grated pecorino romano cheese
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- crushed red pepper (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Add the eggplant, tomatoes, garlic, onion, basil and olive oil to a mixing bowl; toss to coat. Place the vegetables on a roasting pan and cook 15 minutes until softened.
- While the vegetables are roasting, bring a large pot of water with a little salt to a rolling boil over high heat; then add the pasta and cook according to package directions. (Typical long fusilli will take about 15-20 minutes to cook al dente once the water is boiling.)
- Drain the pasta reserving 1 cup of pasta water on the side; then place the pasta back in the pot.
- Add the cooked vegetables, grated cheese, salt and pepper; toss to coat.
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