A combination of flavorful homemade tomato sauce, roasted eggplant and fresh mozzarella makes this pasta scrumptious. Eggplants or aubergines, whether fried, baked sautéed or grilled – each cooking method brings out a different quality of the veggie. Eggplants are the star of this simple dish. The final and most essential touch to this dish is cubed mozzarella.
I tried an eggplant pasta dish in a restaurant few months back. After experiencing the eggplant in pasta, I always go with this combo with no fear when I go out or when I cook at home. I knew that it was a simple dish that could be re-created at home, if done correctly. Eggplants when cooked give a wonderful texture. But, because they are spongy, they can soak up too much moisture or oil and become soggy if not cooked properly. Baking this eggplant requires a lot less oil and is much easier than frying in a pan. It is certainly a simple dish, but it’s very satisfying.
The way to season everything perfect is by seasoning everything along the way. Season your eggplant with salt and pepper before baking it, season your tomato sauce with salt and pepper, and also your pasta water with salt. Be careful not to season them more as we are adding cheese at the end which will give some additional salt. So, when we bake them with salt, it removes some of the moisture in the dish. This method helps to retain the texture of the eggplant.
I cut the eggplants pretty big because if you cut them too small, they won’t hold the shape when you roast them. I am placing them in a aluminum foil when baking because it’s easy to clean up 😉 no other reason! When it gets roasted, it gets caramelized at the edges and that gives great flavor.
You can refer on how to boil pasta perfectly page for a perfect pasta.
- Pasta: ½ lb (Ziti)
- Eggplant –1 large, Skin peeled and cut into large cubes.
- Olive oil – 2 tbsp.
- Red Chilli flakes – 1 tsp.
- Onion – 1 cup, chopped
- Garlic – 2 cloves, minced
- Italian Peeled crushed tomatoes – 1 can – 28oz
- Parmiggiano Reggiano – ¼ cup
- Fresh Basil – Chopped
- Mozzarella – 1 cup, cubed
- Salt and pepper – as needed
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and set aside.
- Fill a large pot of water, sprinkle some salt and bring to a boil.
- Add the cubed eggplant to a baking sheet and drizzle some olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Toss them well. Bake for 30 minutes.
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Add the chilli flakes, onion, garlic and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes till the onions have turned golden brown.
- Add the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 20 minutes until the sauce thickens.
- Now add the eggplant and simmer for ten minutes.
- This is the right point where you add the pasta to the boiling salted water and cook according to the packet instructions. I cooked for 8 minutes. Drain well.
- Add the pasta to the sauce and garnish with parmiggiano and basil. Toss them all together nicely.
- Now add the cubed mozzarella when it is hot (important!), toss it well, this will melt the cheese from the heat of pasta.
- Serve right away or reheat and serve to feel the mozzarella melting in mouth.
2. I used ziti, you can use any like penne, rigatoni.