We love eggplant at my house — and Italian food. This summer we’ve been marrying eggplant, sauce, and pasta to the delight of all concerned.
Think of this trio of eggplant-cooking techniques, sauces, and pastas as your mix & match playground for quick delicious summer suppers.
Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Pasta
recipe by Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times
- 1 ¾ pounds eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 to 2 banana or Italian frying peppers, halved, seeded and thinly sliced
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, more for drizzling
- 12 ounces pasta, such as campanelle or farfalle
- 2 pounds very ripe heirloom tomatoes, halved through their equators
- 1 to 2 fat garlic cloves, grated on a Microplane or minced
- Large pinch crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons brine-packed capers, drained
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (optional)
- Grated ricotta salata or Parmesan cheese, for serving (optional)
- Fresh mint or basil leaves, for serving
- Heat oven to 450 degrees. Spread out eggplant cubes and peppers on a rimmed baking sheet. Toss with 3 tablespoons oil and season well with salt. Roast, turning everything, until eggplant and peppers are very soft and deeply golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes.
- Meanwhile, cook pasta in well-salted boiling water until about 1 minute shy of al dente. Drain.
- Using the large holes of a box grater, grate tomatoes over a large skillet so the pulp falls into the skillet. To do this, hold on to the curved side of the tomato in your hand and slide the cut, flat side across the holes. Stop grating just before you reach the skin.
- Add the garlic, red pepper flakes and 1 tablespoon olive oil to the pan with the tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Simmer until tomato pulp is reduced by half, then season to taste with salt.
- Add the pasta, capers and butter to the pan with the tomatoes and bring to a simmer, tossing until butter melts and pasta finishes cooking, about 1 minute. Turn off the heat and toss in eggplant and cheese.
- Serve pasta drizzled with a little more oil and the herbs.
Spaghetti with Tomato Sauce and Pan-Fried Eggplant
recipe by Nick Kindelsperger for Serious Eats
- 2 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
- 2 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
- 2 lb. plum tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound spaghetti
- 4 medium Japanese eggplants (about 1 pound) ends trimmed, thinly sliced
- Grated Parmesan
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook, stirring until soft, 3 to 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes and their juices, and use a potato masher or the back of a wooden spoon to break up the tomatoes into small pieces. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes have reduced into a thick sauce, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Blend with an immersion blender or a countertop blender in batches. Add sugar, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- While tomato sauce cooks, heat 1/2 cup of olive oil in a large 12-inch non-stick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Spread the eggplant slices out in the skillet. The pieces will immediately soak up most of the oil, but will eventually expel the oil and start to brown. Stir occasionally until eggplants slices are browned on all sides, and just starting to crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove slices with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
- Cook spaghetti in boiling water according to package directions. When almost done, reserve 1/4 cup of pasta water. Drain pasta in a colander, and immediately transfer to the pot with the tomato sauce. Turn heat to medium, add the pasta water, and toss pasta until it is evenly coated with the sauce.
- Divide pasta between four plates. Top each with a quarter of the fried eggplant slices and sprinkle generously with freshly grated parmesan. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.
Fettuccine with Spinach, Ricotta, and Grilled Eggplant
recipe by Charlyne Mattox for Real Simple
- 2 small eggplants (1½ pounds total), sliced lengthwise ½ inch thick
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for serving
- kosher salt and black pepper
- 16 to 18 ounces fresh fettuccine
- 5 ounces baby spinach (6 cups)
- 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
- 1 cup ricotta
- crushed red pepper (optional)
- Heat grill to medium. Brush the eggplant with the oil and season with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Grill until tender, 5 to 6 minutes per side. Transfer to a cutting board and cut into bite-size pieces.
- Meanwhile, cook the fettuccine according to the package directions. Reserve ½ cup of the cooking water; drain the fettuccine and return it to the pot.
- Add the eggplant, spinach, vinegar, ¼ cup of the reserved cooking water, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper to the fettuccine and toss to combine. (Add more cooking water if the fettuccine seems dry.) Serve topped with the ricotta and, if desired, red pepper, and additional oil. Makes 4 servings.
Cook’s Note: I love adding tuna (canned), shrimp, or other seafood to pasta sauce with eggplant. A squirt of anchovy paste and a heaping spoonful of capers make it extra coastal and delicious.
Whether you saute it in a pan, roast it in the oven, or grill it in the back yard, eggplant makes the perfect vegetarian pasta sauce. Pair with a simple green salad and a glass of wine and close your eyes. Imagine you’re dining on a terrace on the Napoli coast. I’m right there with you.
Check out more eggplant recipes from our recipe archive!