Why It Works
- A mixture of mint and oregano approximates the flavor of the rarer Italian herb (nepitella) traditionally used in this dish.
- Breaking the swordfish up into smaller, more irregular pieces helps distribute it throughout the pasta.
- Briefly sizzling garlic in the oil infuses it with flavor without turning the dish into a garlic bomb.
On the southern Italian island of Sicily, seafood reigns supreme—as do tomatoes, and eggplant. In this summery pasta, all three of those Sicilian stars come together for an easy, hearty, yet still light dish. Choose your ingredients well—poor-quality ones will fall flat in a pasta recipe as simple as this.
- Kosher salt
- 1/4 cup (60ml) extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
- 1/2 pound (225g) eggplant (about two-thirds of a large eggplant), cut into 1/2-inch dice (see note)
- 1 medium clove garlic, gently crushed under the flat side of a knife
- 3/4 pound (340g) swordfish, skin removed, flesh cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1/2 pound (225g) rigatoni or spaghetti
- 8 ounces (225g) ripe cherry or other small tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1/4 cup (60ml) dry white wine
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh mint and/or oregano leaves
Fill a small pot with salted water and bring to a boil.
In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add eggplant and cook, stirring, until golden and tender, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer eggplant to paper towels to drain.
Add garlic to skillet, lower heat to medium-low, and cook, turning occasionally, until lightly golden, about 4 minutes. Using slotted spoon, remove and discard garlic.
Increase heat to medium-high and add swordfish. Cook, stirring, until fish is opaque and just starting to brown lightly, about 2 minutes.
Meanwhile, add pasta to boiling water and cook until al dente, according to manufacturer's recommended timing.
Add tomatoes and white wine to skillet and cook until wine has reduced slightly and its raw-alcohol smell is mostly gone, about 2 minutes. Use a wooden spoon to break up the swordfish slightly. Stir in herbs and season sauce with salt.
Return cooked eggplant to skillet. When pasta is cooked, transfer to skillet as well, along with about 1/4 cup (60ml) pasta-cooking water. Cook, stirring, until sauce has reduced to a silky glaze.
Drizzle a generous dose of olive oil all over pasta, toss to combine, then transfer to bowls or plates and serve.
Large skillet, slotted spoon
There's no need to pre-salt the eggplant if you're using in-season specimens that are young and have small seeds. Older eggplants with lots of big seeds can benefit from pre-salting. (To pre-salt, sprinkle salt all over the diced eggplant and let it drain for 15 to 30 minutes in a colander set over a bowl.)