I read this week that Ottawa’s Nicholas Hoare bookstore is slated to close. I’ve been a infrequent browser there since, twelve years ago, my high school friends and I would come in from the rain to flip through its collection of glossy coffee table books, admire the floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, and search out the resident long-haired cat. Since then, Nicholas Hoare has been a mandatory stop for any friends visiting Ottawa for the first time – I’ve been so proud to have a bookstore in my city with murals, child-sized arm chairs, and ladders that move along the walls. Not to mention the books themselves; I’ve never coveted so many things in one place before.
Nicholas Hoare’s Ottawa closure is news that demands comfort food. I like this pasta dish for its heartiness (thanks, eggplant, zucchini & tagliatelle), but the tomatoes, mint & basil keep it from being dead-of-winter fare. I actually toned down the comfort quotient of the original recipe by not deep frying the vegetables, but then I did find out that there’s a Nicholas Hoare bookstore in Toronto, too. New City: 1. Old City: 0.
Tagliatelle with Zucchini & Eggplant
adapted from La Cucina Siciliana di Gangivecchio
1 medium eggplant, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubed
1 medium zucchini, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 small onion, chopped
3 tbsp mint leaves, chopped
3 tbsp basil leaves, chopped
2 tbsp parsley, chopped
1 can tomatoes
freshly ground black pepper
cayenne pepper (to taste)
pecorino or Parmesan cheese (optional)
1. Drizzle a large frying pan with olive oil until it’s hot but not smoking. Add eggplant and saute until browned and softened. Add extra olive oil as necessary to keep the eggplant from sticking. Remove the eggplant to a baking tray lined with paper towels to drain, & sprinkle with salt. Set aside.
2. In the same frying pan, saute zucchini until browned and softened. Add extra olive oil as necessary. Remove zucchini to a baking tray lined with paper towels to drain, & sprinkle with salt. Set aside with eggplant.
3. Add a little more olive oil to the frying pan, and over medium heat, cook the onion and garlic until golden. Add herbs and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Add tomatoes & juice, eggplant, & zucchini. Stir and simmer, adding salt/pepper/cayenne to taste.
4. Serve over tagliatelle or your pasta of choice, & top with pecorino or Parmesean cheese.