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Recipes / Saucy Eggplant with Basil and Pasta

Saucy Eggplant with Basil and Pasta

By Mark Bittman

Published January 22, 2024

There's literally more herb than noodles in this torta-ish layered-and-baked dish, which was based on summertime vegetables. To substitute the bounty of the season, try winter squash or celery root instead of the eggplant and used canned whole tomatoes. Fall greens like mustard, kale, or spinach works surprisingly well as “the herb.”

Photo: Kerri Conan
Photo: Kerri Conan
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Saucy Eggplant with Basil and Pasta

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Makes 4 servings 1x

Time about an hour

Scale

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces penne or other long cut pasta
  • 4 cups tomato sauce
  • Olive oil as needed
  • 1 1/2 pounds eggplant, sliced crosswise about 1/2-inch thick
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tightly packed cup basil leaves
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Heat the oven to 450℉. Cook the pasta in boiling salted water until the noodles are just tender but not quite edible. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water. Get the tomato sauce ready, add enough of the reserved water to make a loose sauce, and keep warm. Get a 4- or 5-quart baking dish or Dutch oven handy.
  2. Put a thin film of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the eggplant in batches, salting them as they go in the pan, until they’re soft and browned, 3 to 5 minutes a side. As they finish, transfer them to a plate.
  3. Start with a layer of about 1/3 of the each component starting with the eggplant, followed by basil, pasta, sauce, and cheese. Sprinkle with pepper as you like. Repeat so that you finish with sauce and cheese.
  4. Bake uncovered until the eggplant shrinks and the whole thing gets browned and bubbly, 15 to 20 minutes. Let the pot sit for at least a couple minutes before serving hot or at room temperature.

— Recipe developed by Mark Bittman