Rigatoni with Eggplant

Rigatoni is perfect for this dish because the sauce settles inside the pasta as well as outside. Penne is a decent substitute. This is also a good vegetarian option for a buffet.

Ready time: 1 1/2 hours
Servings: 4

1 Sicilian eggplant, about 2 lbs (1 kg)

1/4 cup olive oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper

10 oz (285 g) rigatoni

1/2 cup chopped onions

2 tsp chopped garlic

2 cups diced tomatoes

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup roughly chopped pitted green olives

2 tbsp roughly chopped capers

2 tsp chopped fresh oregano

2 tbsp chopped fresh basil

3/4 cup shaved ricotta salata, about 3 oz (90 g)

Preheat oven to 450 F.

Cut eggplant into 1-inch-thick slices. Place on a baking sheet and drizzle with 2 tbsp olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Bake 18 to 20 minutes, flipping once, or until soft and slightly caramelized. Cool, then chop into 1-inch cubes.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add pasta and cook for 9 minutes or until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup cooking water.

Heat remaining 2 tbsp oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onions and sauté gently for 2 to 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook another 1 minute. Raise heat to medium-high and add tomatoes and vinegar. Simmer for 1 to 2 minutes or until tomatoes soften. Stir in eggplant, olives, capers, oregano and basil and cook until flavours are combined and sauce is thick, another 3 to 5 minutes. Season well with salt and pepper.

Toss pasta with sauce, adding enough cooking water so that it is not dry. Serve with shaved ricotta salata.