“Very well, I will marry you if you promise not to make me eat eggplant.” Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Love in the Time of Cholera,
Unlike Gabriel Garcia Marquez, I love eggplant. This baked rigatoni dish is a satisfying vegetarian main dish chockful of eggplant with ricotta, mozzarella and parmesan cheeses giving it ooey-gooey richness. The addition of pesto gives it a nice flavor boost. I modified the original recipe by roasting the eggplant instead of pan frying it in oil, increased the amount of pesto and added some herbs and spices. On a busy weeknight, you can assemble it in advance and bake it when ready. For a shortcut, you can substitute ready-made tomato sauce and omit the onion/garlic/tomatoes. You can view the original recipe by one of my favorite bloggers, Josette @The Brook Cook, here.
Triple Cheese Eggplant Rigatoni
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing your pan
- 1 pound rigatoni
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 2 medium eggplants, cut into 3/4-inch dice
- coarse salt
- freshly ground pepper
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 8 garlic cloves, chopped
- 28-oz can San Marzano whole tomatoes, with juice, cut into pieces with kitchen shears
- 1/4 cup prepared pesto
- 1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon of hot pepper flakes
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, torn or shredded (1 1/2 cups)
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 1/4 cup of parsley, finely chopped
- Preheat the oven to 400 F.
- Butter a 9-by-13-inch ovenproof baking dish.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss the eggplant in 2 tablespoons of olive oil and spread on the baking sheet in a single layer. Season with salt and pepper. Roast on a low shelf for 30 minutes, stirring a few times to avoid sticking. Reduce oven to 375 F.
- In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the rigatoni until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain, then transfer to the baking dish.
- Toss the pasta with the pesto. Mix in the eggplant and the ricotta.
- Meanwhile, in a large non-stick skillet or sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the onion, garlic. Cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until they have broken down and thickened to a sauce consistency, 7 to 8 minutes.
- Stir in the 4 tablespoons of butter and the hot pepper flakes.
- Fold the tomato sauce into the pasta and eggplant, season with salt and pepper.
- Top with the mozzarella, Parmigiano-Reggiano and finish with a sprinkling of parsley. Cover in foil and bake for about 20 minutes, until bubbling and golden on top.
- Let the pasta rest for 10 minutes before serving.