Use a firm, large globe eggplant for this dish. More delicate eggplant varieties will fall apart in the cooking.
- 1/2 pound of spaghetti or any other long thin Italian pasta (linguini or fettucini)
- 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
1 Heat salted water for pasta: 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.
2 Sauté cubed eggplant: 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 Start cooking sliced red onion: 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 Cook pasta: 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.
5 Add garlic to red onion, then spinach, then eggplant, and mint: 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.
6 Toss pasta with eggplant mixture: 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.