- 1 medium to large firm, heavy eggplant — the firmness and weight of an eggplant determine its freshness and bitterness
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 pound bulk Italian sausage with fennel seed or 4 links of sweet sausage with fennel, casings removed
- 4 large cloves garlic, chopped
- 10 leaves sage, stacked and very thinly sliced
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 1 pound fusilli lunghi or bucatini
- A few handfuls grated Pecorino cheese plus additional for passing
- EVOO – Extra Virgin Olive Oil, for drizzling
Trim top and bottom off eggplant then cut into 1-inch planks and dice into bite-sized cubes. Place the eggplant on kitchen towels and salt it, let stand 20 minutes then pat dry.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 turn of the pan. Add sausage, brown and crumble then remove to plate. Add remaining oil, 2 turns of the pan, and eggplant, and brown 5 minutes, season with pepper. Add garlic and sage, and stir a minute then add tomato paste and stir to incorporate. Add wine and reduce heat to a simmer, add reserved sausage.
Salt boiling water and cook pasta to al dente, adding a mug of salty water to the sauce before draining, about 1 cup. Remove sauce from heat. Drain pasta and toss it with the sauce. Adjust seasoning, adding a fat handful of grated Pecorino cheese and a fat drizzle EVOO. Serve pasta in shallow bowls and pass extra cheese at table.
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