Uh this was such a fabulous pasta. As a lover of eggplant, and cheese, and carbs… this was a dream. A crunchy, cheesy top with a silky, creamy pasta situation underneath. I used two kinds of mozzarella in this to make the dish that much more indulgent but you could use all of one kind if that’s easier.
I was generous with the red-pepper flake to give it a little heat but you could leave it out entirely. Don’t be shy with the pasta water- it’s a game changer in this easy and delicious tomato sauce. This was so comforting and perfect with a simple arugula salad, homemade bread and a glass of red.
- 1 pound rigatoni
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large eggplant (about 1.5 lbs) cut into 1” pieces
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 4 gloves garlic, minced
- 1-2 tsp red-pepper flake (I did 2)
- 1 (28-oz) can whole tomatoes (whole can juice and all)
- 1 cup grated parmesan
- 1.5 cups grated fresh mozzarella (from the kind that’s in a soft white ball)
- 1.5 cups grated mozzarella (from the kind that’s a somewhat hard brick)
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves, torn, plus more for garnish
- Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Cook rigatoni according to package instructions but keep it slightly more al dente (it will cook more in oven later). Reserve 1.5 cups pasta water. Drain pasta and rinse under cold water, place in large bowl.
- Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in large oven proof skillet over medium. Add half of eggplant, season with salt/pep, and cook until golden brown on all sides (about 10 mins). Transfer eggplant to rigatoni bowl. Repeat with remaining eggplant.
- Heat the remaining 2 tbls olive oil in skillet over medium. Add onion and garlic and cook until translucent about 4 minutes. Stir in red-pepper flake and pinch of salt/pep. Add tomatoes and, using fork, break and smoosh tomatoes in skillet. Cook for 5-10 minutes until very soft. Add up to 1.5 cups of pasta water (I used all 1.5 cups) to make a silky sauce.
- Add rigatoni/eggplant, parmesan, 0.75 cup fresh mozz, 0.75 cup regular mozz, and 1 cup of basil to skillet. Toss to combine. (You could also do all this in a bowl and then dump into skillet).
- Top skillet with remaining mozzarellas and bake until sauce is bubbling, cheese is melted and top pieces of pasta are starting to get a crunch on them. Serve with additional basil.
Inspired by nytimes