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my favorite rigatoni pasta served with eggplant (aubergines), ricotta sauce

If I could, pasta would eat at every meal…along with a crunchy, crispy salad, it would be pure happiness.  And rigatoni is one of the best, most satisfyingly mouth appealing shapes, and also a very favorite.

The eggplant and tomato sauce topped with cheese creates the appeal of savory flavor with the lovely, light creaminess of fresh ricotta.  You can make the tomato sauce in the recipe or substitute a good store bought brand, and then just finish it with eggplant and ricotta.

Eggplant has one downside.  The best flavor results after it is steeped in salt, to remove bitterness.  An extra little step to consider when making this wonderful dish.

my favorite rigatoni pasta served with eggplant (aubergines), ricotta sauce

If I could, pasta would eat at every meal…along with a crunchy, crispy salad, it would be pure happiness.  And rigatoni is one of the best, most satisfyingly mouth appealing shapes, and also a very favorite.

The eggplant and tomato sauce topped with cheese creates the appeal of savory flavor with the lovely, light creaminess of fresh ricotta.  You can make the tomato sauce in the recipe or substitute a good store bought brand, and then just finish it with eggplant and ricotta.

Eggplant has one downside.  The best flavor results after it is steeped in salt, to remove bitterness.  An extra little step to consider when making this wonderful dish.

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Ingredients

Recipe serves: 4
2 large eggplants (aubergines)
1/2 cup onion, thinly sliced
1/3 cup vegetable oil, more as necessary
2 tablespoons olive oil, more as necessary
tomato sauce
1-26 ounces canned or boxed chopped tomatoes, about 6 cups
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2-3 leaves fresh basil
salt, to taste
final steps
3-4 tablespoons ricotta cheese, or more depending on preference
3 tablespoons grated romano cheese, plus more for serving
4 whole basil leaves (optional for garnish)
salt, to taste
ground pepper, to taste
pasta
3/4 pound rigatoni pasta
handful salt for pasta water
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my favorite rigatoni pasta served with eggplant (aubergines), ricotta sauce
  • time
    1.5 - 2 hours
  • serves
    4
  • skill level
    Medium

Ingredients

  • tomato sauce

  • final steps

  • pasta

Directions

1
Done

soaking eggplants

Peel eggplants and cut into 1 inch size cubes. You do want to remove the green part (the cap) of the eggplant.

2
Done

In order to remove bitterness in the eggplant the following step in important. Place eggplant cubes in a colander within a large bowl. Cover pieces with salt. You want to work in layers to assure eggplant pieces are covered. Set aside for 1 hour.

3
Done

tomato sauce

Place 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium saucepan- make sure the oil covers bottom of the pan, add more oil if necessary. Add the tomatoes. You can also substitute with you favorite store bought sauce.

4
Done

When tomatoes begin to soften in 3-4 minutes, add the garlic, basil leaves and sprinkle of salt. Lower the heat and simmer for at least 45 minutes.

5
Done

eggplant sauce

After one hour, discard the dark juice from the eggplant and rinse off. Squeeze out any excess water in eggplants.

6
Done

In a medium saute pan, add the vegetable oil and place over medium heat. Vegetable oil should come up about 1/2 inch from bottom of pan- add more if necessary.

7
Done

Working in batches, place eggplants in one single layer- loosely fitting the pan , you want to be able to turn comfortably. Cook until tender and slightly brown, gently on all sides. It should take about 4-5 minutes. Adjust heat and oil as necessary.

8
Done

Transfer cooked eggplants to a plate lined with paper towel to drain.

9
Done

Take another pan (or wipe clean the same one used for eggplants), place the 2 tablespoons olive oil and the sliced onions over low to medium heat. Cook until onions become golden brown, about 5-6 minutes.

10
Done

Add the eggplants to the pan, mix well and then pour in the tomato sauce. Toss all together for a minute or two. You can make the sauce up to a day in advance and reheat.

11
Done

pasta

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, at least 8 to 10 cups. You want plenty of water, pasta needs to move around or it may become mushy. If you do not have a large pot, use two small ones.

12
Done

Add a generous bit of salt- or a general rule is 1 heaping tablespoon for each pound of pasta. The water should be "slightly less salty than the sea."

13
Done

Add the pasta, mix around, set timer for 7 minutes but test the pasta (remove one piece and bite into it) after 5 minutes.

14
Done

Once the pasta is al dente (slightly chewy and resistant to the bite) take out 1 cup of the pasta water (set aside in case you need to loosen the sauce), and then remove pasta immediately and drain.

15
Done

Place pasta in the saute pan with the eggplant sauce, toss well. If sauce is seems too thick, you can add 1-2 tablespoons to sauce to loosen- especially if you cooked the sauce in advance and/or refrigerated.

16
Done

Plate pasta individually or in a large serving dish, scoop out ricotta in small teaspoons all around the sauce, sprinkle with romano cheese and serve. I like to also top with a few large leaves of fresh basil.