The necessary interval needed to cool the eggplant makes this dish a perfect candidate for advance prep work. Prepare the eggplant and sauce earlier in the day, and then they’ll be ready when it comes time to cook the pasta later.
Serves: 4Hands-on: 15 minutesTotal: 35 minutesDifficulty: Easy
- 1 eggplant, about 1 lb.
- 5 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
- 1 can (28 oz.) plum tomatoes, no salt added, with juice
- 1 Tbsp. bottled minced garlic
- 2 Tbsp. minced onion
- 1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
- 1⁄4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1⁄4 tsp. ground black pepper
- 3⁄4 lb. penne pasta
- 3 quarts water
- 1 1⁄2 tsp. salt
- Pierce the eggplant several times with a fork. Brush 1 tablespoon olive oil over the eggplant. Place in a large microwave-safe bowl and cover the dish with microwave-safe plastic wrap. Microwave for 2 minutes. Turn over, re-cover, and microwave for 2 minutes, or as needed until the eggplant has softened. Remove from the microwave and cool.
- Meanwhile, prepare the sauce. Combine the tomatoes with juice, garlic, onion, red wine vinegar, basil, 4 tablespoons olive oil, salt, and pepper in a blender or food processor. Process until it forms a thick sauce. Chill for 15 minutes to blend the flavors.
- When the eggplant is cool enough to handle, chop it into bite-size chunks. Pour the pasta sauce into a large skillet. Add the eggplant. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes.
- Bring a large pot with 3 quarts salted water to a boil. Add the penne to the boiling water. Cook until the pasta is cooked al dente. Drain in a colander. Toss the pasta with the eggplant and sauce.