Pasta with Eggplant, Feta, and Mint

Usually if an eggplant and pasta are in the same room together, there’s tomato sauce involved. Here’s a recipe that bucks this convention and features eggplant without the sauce, but with red onions, garlic, baby spinach, and mint, all sautéed in olive oil and tossed with spaghetti pasta and crumbled feta cheese.

It is amazingly good. Surprisingly good. Like you just want to keep eating it good.

You need to use a firm globe eggplant, not tender Japanese eggplant for a recipe like this. The cubed globe eggplant will hold its shape in the time it takes to brown on all sides. The taste of mint is understated, it’s used like one would use oregano or thyme, just an herb to add a note to the dish.

The recipe comes by way of my friend Kathi who cooked for many years at Zuni Cafe in San Francisco and who regularly inspires the dishes here on Simply Recipes. Thank you Kathi!

Pasta with Eggplant, Feta, and Mint Recipe

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 3 to 4.

Use a firm, large globe eggplant for this dish. More delicate eggplant varieties will fall apart in the cooking.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound of spaghetti or any other long thin Italian pasta (linguini or fettucini)
  • Salt
  • 3/4 pound globe eggplant, peeled and cut into 1/2 to 3/4-inch cubes (about 2 1/2 cup of cubed eggplant)
  • 5 Tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium red onion, cut in half lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (1 Tbsp)
  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach (3 ounces), roughly chopped
  • 5 to 6 mint leaves (spearmint), minced
  • 2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Method

1 Put a large pot of salted water (1 Tbsp of salt for every 2 quarts of water) on to boil. While the pasta water is heating, start cooking the eggplant.

saute peeled cubed eggplant close up of sauteed eggplant

2 Heat 3 Tbsp of olive oil in a large skillet (preferably non-stick that can handle high temperatures) on high heat. When the oil is shimmering hot, add the cubed eggplant. (Add one cube first to make sure the pan is hot enough. If the eggplant sizzles, it is.) Toss to coat with the hot oil. Brown on all sides. While cooking, sprinkle with 1 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt. Browning the eggplant should take 8 to 10 minutes. When the eggplant is browned on all sides, remove it from the pan to a bowl, set aside.

3 Add the remaining 2 Tbsp of olive oil to the pan. Heat oil on high heat. When the oil is hot, add the sliced red onion, toss to coat with the olive oil. Reduce heat to medium.

4 Put the pasta in the boiling pasta water. Return to a boil, boil uncovered at rolling boil until al dente, cooked through but still a little firm to the bite, about 10 minutes, depending on your package of dry pasta. While the pasta is cooking, continue with the onions.

add chopped spinach to cooked onions and garlic add browned eggplant to spinach and onions

5 Cook the red onion until softened but not browned. Add the minced garlic, cook a minute more. Add the spinach leaves and cook until just wilted. Return the cooked eggplant to the pan and add the mint. Toss to combine. Remove from heat.

add spaghetti pasta to eggplant and spinach

6 When the pasta is ready, scoop out a cup of the pasta cooking water and set aside. Then drain the pasta and add the drained cooked pasta to the sauté pan with the eggplant, onions, and spinach. Add about 1/2 cup of pasta water to the pan with everything. Toss to combine. If you need a little more pasta water, add a little more.

7 Add most of the crumbled feta cheese to the pasta and eggplant and toss everything to combine.

Serve garnished with the remaining crumbled feta cheese and sprinkle generously with freshly ground black pepper.

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15 Comments

  1. Diane

    Could you do this without peeling the eggplant? I generally like to leave peels on veggies. It looks really good and with a bumper crop of eggplant this year, I’m trying new recipes :)

  2. Elizabeth

    This looks amazingly good. A non tomato based pasta sauce is always a refreshing change.

  3. Todd

    I made this for dinner tonight and it was delicious! Thanks for all the great recipes. Many have become a part of my regular repertoire!

  4. Biene Vallée

    The eggplant looks great, poses no problem, but the feta does. We are vegan. Can we use something other than cheese?

    • Elise

      You can skip the cheese and just sprinkle with more salt. If you want protein, perhaps olive oil-sautéed tofu, or just some salted pan roasted sunflower seeds?

  5. Baby June

    That looks awesome! Love the use of fresh eggplant. :)

  6. Olivier

    Great recipe! One question though, what do you think about adding lemon juice?

  7. Katherine

    I made this last night. It is delicious and easy to make. Even my husband liked it and he usually frowns at meals without meat.

  8. Jennifer

    Wonderful recipe! Made it exactly as listed, except I couldn’t find globe eggplant. Used regular (is that the right term?) eggplant instead. Keeper recipe!

  9. Azkyroth

    Curious; what are some typical cultivars considered “globe?” Or is “globe” itself a cultivar? Do we simply mean “not long/fingery?” (I have Rosa Bianca and one of the white cultivars growing in pots on my porch…)

  10. Bruce

    I made this yesterday and it came out great! I had to make a few tweets though. For one I didn’t have any spinach available so instead I used fresh parsley and added some chopped baby bellas. I felt it needed a little tang so I added a hit if white wine vinegar. And lastly, my pregnant wife can’t eat feta at the moment so I substituted grated parmesan. Super delicious!

  11. Lauri

    Made this just as written and oh my, so delicious!

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