Pasta with Tomato and Eggplant Sauce

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photo by Todd Coleman

Serves 4 -6

2 medium eggplants, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 small yellow onion, minced
1 teaspoon crushed red chile flakes
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled plum tomatoes, undrained and crushed by hand
16 fresh basil leaves, torn by hand
1 pound twist pasta or spaghetti
4 ounces good quality mozzarella cheese, grated

Heat oven to 500 degrees. Put eggplant into a bowl and drizzle with 4 tablespoons oil. Toss to combine and season with salt and pepper. Transfer eggplant to 2 baking sheets and bake, turning occasionally, until soft and caramelized, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a rack and set aside.

Heat remaining oil in a 5-quart pot over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring, until soft, about 10 minutes. Add chile flakes and garlic and cook, stirring, until garlic softens, about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes and half the basil, season with salt, and cook until heated through, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until just al dente – about 9 minutes. Drain pasta and transfer to tomato sauce. Stir in reserved eggplant and toss to combine. Stir in remaining basil and season with salt. To serve, transfer pasta to a platter and garnish with mozzarella cheese and a little drizzle of olive oil.

The pasta possibilities are endless. You might enjoy this light and easy spinach and feta version.

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