Triple Cheese Eggplant Rigatoni

“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


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
  2. Butter a 9-by-13-inch ovenproof baking dish.
  3. 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.
  4. In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the rigatoni until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain, then transfer to the baking dish.
  5. Toss the pasta with the pesto. Mix in the eggplant and the ricotta.
  6. 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.
  7. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until they have broken down and thickened to a sauce consistency, 7 to 8 minutes.
  8. Stir in the 4 tablespoons of butter and the hot pepper flakes.
  9. Fold the tomato sauce into the pasta and eggplant, season with salt and pepper. 
  10. 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.
  11. Let the pasta rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Still Life with a Ginger Jar and Eggplants, Paul Cézanne, oil on canvas, 1893-94, The Metropolitain Museum