Spaghetti With Vegetables


1 lb good quality dried spaghetti
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium eggplant, cut in 1/2 inch dice
5 medium plum tomatoes, roughly chopped
1/2 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
1 medium green pepper, sliced
2 cups fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Makes 6 servings.


  • Fill a large stock pot with cold water. Add 2 tablespoons of salt to the water and bring to boil over high heat.
  • Meanwhile, peel and cut eggplant in 1/2 inch dice. Set aside.
  • Roughly chop tomatoes and prepare scallions.
  • Wash and slice mushrooms and green pepper.
  • In large sauté pan or wok heat oil over medium high heat.
  • Add garlic and stir fry until garlic is fragrant and lightly browned. Immediately remove to plate and set aside.
  • Add the diced eggplant and sauté until golden brown. It's important not to move the eggplant around a lot. Remove eggplant to plate with garlic.
  • Adding a bit more olive oil to the pan, sauté the sliced green pepper and scallions until soft and remove to the plate with eggplant.
  • Add the mushrooms to the pan and sauté until light brown in color.
  • Add all vegetables from the plate back into the pan, than add tomatoes, and chopped thyme.
  • Cook for 8-10 minutes until cooked al dente. Season to taste.
  • In the meantime, when the water boils, add the spaghetti and cook according to directions on the package. Drain pasta (do not rinse) and transfer to shallow serving bowl.
  • Add sauce and toss lightly to mix.
  • Garnish with chopped fresh parsley and serve immediately.

If the sauce is not ready reserve the hot water from the pot, cover the pasta with a lid or foil and place the shallow bowl with pasta over the pot with hot water to keep it worm.

Real Cooking

Did You Know?
In cooking, the Italian expression al dente describes pasta and (less commonly) rice or beans that have been cooked so as to be firm but not hard. "Al dente" also describes vegetables that are cooked to the "tender crisp" phase - still offering resistance to the bite, but cooked through. It is often considered to be the ideal form of cooked pasta.

Keeping the pasta firm is especially important in baked or "al forno" pasta dishes. The term comes from Italian and means "to the tooth" or "to the bite", referring to the need to chew the pasta due to its firmness. The term is also very commonly used as a name for Italian restaurants around the world.

For cooking rice or pasta to the "al dente" stage you have to find the midway stage between the under-cooked phase, where rice or dried pasta stays hard in the middle and where fresh pasta tastes "floury", and the over-cooked phase, where the dish lacks texture and is considered too soft. Using plenty of salt helps achieve the "al dente" texture.

Pasta that is cooked al dente has a lower glycemic index than pasta that is cooked soft.

Perhaps the most common misconception about the term is the idea that "to the tooth" means the item should stick to the teeth. If pasta sticks to the teeth when it is being chewed, it is widely considered undercooked.

The term is also occasionally used in reference to cooking vegetables, such as green beans or brussels sprouts, though this is often misunderstood as meaning that instead of being cooked all the way through, they still have a raw taste to them, generally undesirable in cooking. It should be interpreted as cooking them just until they lose their raw taste, as a way to avoid overcooking them.