Photo Credit: Sara Remington
Pasta with Eggplant, Tomato Sauce, and Baked Ricotta
Pasta is tossed with basil-laced tomato sauce then topped with a heaping portion of fried eggplant morsels.
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- about 2 cups olive oil, for frying
- 1 large eggplant, unpeeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 pound dried short pasta, such as paccheri
- 3 cups tomato sauce
- 8 fresh basil leaves, roughly torn in pieces
- Ricotta salata or Baked Ricotta, for serving
- 1/2 pound ricotta
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.
- Meanwhile, heat about 3 inches of the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan over high heat. Add the eggplant in batches and fry, turning occasionally, until golden brown, 5 to 8 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the eggplant to paper towels to drain the excess oil. Sprinkle the fried eggplant with salt to taste.
- Add the pasta to the pot of boiling water and cook until not quite al dente.
- Meanwhile, heat the sauce in a pot over low heat. Before the pasta is al dente, drain it (reserving some of the cooking water) and add it to the sauce, continuously moving the pan back and forth over the stove top so the pasta does not stick to the bottom of the pan. If the pasta is not yet cooked but the sauce is very thick, add some pasta cooking water. Season with salt to taste. Add the basil leaves and some of the fried eggplant to the sauce.
- Place the pasta, coated with the tomato sauce, on a platter or on individual serving plates. Top with the remainder of the fried eggplant, then shaved ricotta salata or baked ricotta.
- Wrap the ricotta with cheesecloth and place it in a strainer set over a bowl. Refrigerate the ricotta overnight to drain.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Remove the ricotta from the cheesecloth and form it into a ball, then press it into a disc. Place the disc on a piece of aluminum foil and bring the edges up to wrap completely.
- Bake the ricotta disc for about 30 minutes, until it turns golden on top. Remove the foil from the top of the ricotta. Bake until the ricotta is browned on the top, 10 minutes more. Let cool to room temperature before storing in the refrigerator, where it will keep for up to 5 days.
Excerpted from Sicily: The Cookbook, Recipes Rooted in Traditions © 2017 By Melissa Muller. Published By Rizzoli.
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