- ½ cup walnuts or walnut pieces
- 1 heavy medium-large eggplant, half-peeled and chopped into ¼-inch-dice
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
- 1 pound mushrooms (Hen-of-the-woods/maitake), trimmed and pulled into small pieces, and crimini, wiped and chopped, combined
- 2 large shallots or 1 onion, finely chopped
- Salt and pepper
- 6 cloves garlic (1 bulb), chopped or grated
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin, or a scant palmful
- 1 tablepsoon coriander, or a scant palmful
- 1 tablespoon pimenton, or a scant palmful
- 1 tablespoon smoked sweet paprika, or a scant palmful
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano or marjoram, or ⅔ palmful
- 1 tablespoon harissa paste
- About 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 3 tablespoons sundried tomato paste
- ½ cup white wine
- One 28-ounce can crushed or chopped Italian tomatoes
- 1 pound rigatoni
- 1 cup grated pecorino cheese, plus more for table
- One generous handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Toast the nuts in a small skillet over medium heat until golden and fragrant, then finely chop them and reserve.
Salt chopped eggplant and drain on kitchen towel, 20-30 minutes, then drain by pressing dry.
Heat a pot of water for rigatoni.
Heat a deep skillet with EVOO, 4 turns of the pan, over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and brown well, then add the shallots or onions and season with salt and pepper, add garlic, spices, and dried herbs, then stir in harissa. Add the eggplant and walnuts, partially cover and sweat 5 minutes. Add Worcestershire, tomato paste, wine and tomatoes, and simmer over low heat 20 minutes more.
Salt boiling water and cook pasta 1 minute less than package directions. Add a cup of water from pasta to sauce, then drain pasta.
Toss pasta with sauce, cheese and parsley, and pass with more cheese at table.