Pasta with Roasted Eggplant Sauce and Ricotta Salata
2 small, firm eggplant, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons EVOO
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
6 garlic cloves, cracked from the skins
1 pound penne rigate pasta
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1 28-ounce can crushed San Marzano or other variety canned plum tomatoes
1 cup fresh basil leaves (25-30), shredded or torn
2 cups ricotta salata cheese crumbled
Heat the oven to 425 degrees F. Place a large pot of water on to boil.
Place the eggplant on a cookie sheet. Pour about ½ cup EVOO into a dish. Brush the eggplant lightly with the EVOO. Season the eggplant with salt and pepper. Add the garlic to the cookie sheet and dab it with EVOO as well. Roast for 20 minutes or until both the garlic and eggplant are tender.
When the water comes to a boil, salt it liberally and add the pasta. Cook the pasta al dente with a bite to it.
Preheat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of EVOO and the onions and cook for 5 minutes. Place the cook eggplant and the garlic in a food processor and process into a smooth paste. Add the eggplant paste to the cooked onions then stir in the crushed tomatoes. Season the sauce with the salt and pepper. Toss with the drained hot pasta and the shredded or torn basil. Top the pasta with lots of crumbled ricotta salata.
(Makes 4 servings)