Last week we profiled professional chef & culinary instructor, Marilena Leavitt, discovering a shared love of Mediterranean cuisine, photography and more. In the run-up to Greek Easter, Marilena had some fun playing with the products from our Ultimate Greek Artisan Starter Kit Gift Box, whipping up a tasty and healthy dish that's perfect for your weekly pasta night. You can give it a vegan touch by leaving out the feta cheese and using Agrozimi's spelt hilopites instead of the classic egg-and-milk version Marilena used. Whichever way you go, you're sure to love this dish!
(serves 4 as a first course)
½ med. red onion, diced
1 small zucchini (about 10 oz), diced
1 small baby Italian eggplant (about 10 oz.). diced
4 med. garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. sea salt
2 tbsp. red wine
1 jar Elli & Manos Tomato & Sweet Red Wine sauce
¼ cup Tragano Greek Organics pitted Kalamata olives, cut into quarters
½ lb. Agrozími hilopítes (traditional Greek egg & milk pasta)
½ cup Greek Feta cheese, cubed
fresh basil for garnish
First, prepare the vegetables. Dice the onion and cut the zucchini into ¼” cubes. Trim the stem from the eggplant, then peel it in alternating strips about 1” wide, leaving about half the peel on the eggplant and half off. Slice the eggplant into ½” thick disks, then cut the disks into ½” cubes. Mince the garlic and set aside.
Heat a large non-stick skillet and, once hot, add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Reduce slightly the heat to medium, add the zucchini, and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring often. Stir in the onion and ½ teaspoon of sea salt. Once the vegetables soften, add the minced garlic and cook for a few more minutes until everything turns light golden brown. Remove everything to a plate and set aside.
To the same skillet, add 4 more tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Once the oil gets hot, add the eggplant cubes and sprinkle them with ½ teaspoon of salt. Cook, shaking the pan and stirring regularly until the eggplant cubes are nicely browned and soft. Towards the end of the cooking, stir in 1 teaspoon of the mixed dried herbs to coat.
Return the reserved vegetables to the same pan. Lower the heat to a simmer and add the tomato sauce along with the olives. Cook for a few more minutes, deglaze with the wine and turn off the heat.
While the vegetables cook, bring a medium pot full of water to a boil and then add 1 tablespoon of salt. Add the hilopítes and cook for 5 minutes, until al dente. Drain the pasta well and reserve ½ cup of the cooking water. Pour the hot pasta into the skillet with the vegetables and the tomato sauce. Bring the skillet to a low simmer for a minute, stirring well. Turn off the heat and fold in the Feta cheese. Taste and adjust the seasoning. If necessary, thin out the sauce by adding a little of the cooking water.
Place the pasta on a warm platter, drizzle with the remaining olive oil, and garnish with the fresh basil. Serve at once.
Visit Marilena's website for more!
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