This simple, rustic Sicilian pasta dish is a family favorite. Sweet tomatoes, earthy eggplant and a little red pepper for spice make it a hearty dish for any night. Normally topped with ricotta salata, this version uses a whipped ricotta to balance the tomato-based sauce with a creamier texture.
Technique tip: Cook the eggplant in batches for even cooking.
Swap option: Use shaved ricotta salata instead of ricotta.
- 1 pound (16-ounce box) rigatoni
- 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 3 Italian (1½ pounds) eggplants, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
- Kosher salt
- 2 (10-ounce) containers cherry tomatoes, halved
- 5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon fresh oregano leaves, roughly chopped
- Pinch red pepper flakes
- 1 cup whole milk ricotta (store-bought or homemade)
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the rigatoni in the boiling water according to the package directions until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta.2.
Meanwhile, in a very large, high-sided skillet, warm 1/4 cup of the olive oil over medium-high heat until it begins to shimmer.3.
Add 1/3 of the diced eggplant and a very generous pinch of salt and saute, stirring or tossing often, until fork tender and lightly browned on all sides, about 6 minutes per batch.4.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the eggplant to a bowl; repeat twice more with the remaining eggplant, adding more oil as needed.5.
Add the tomatoes and a very generous pinch of salt and saute until jammy, 6 to 8 minutes.6.
Add the garlic, oregano and red pepper flakes to the tomatoes and saute until well combined for 1 additional minute.7.
Add the pasta and cooked eggplant to the sauce and toss to coat, adding more pasta water, if needed, to create a velvety sauce. Season with salt, to taste.8.
Serve pasta immediately with a generous dollop of ricotta cheese.