Every now and then I like a meatless pasta dish. Macaroni with eggplant and breadcrumbs is one of my favorite vegetarian dishes. It’s made with a simple pomodoro sauce (tomato sauce), eggplant, and freshly made breadcrumbs. Any kind of macaroni works well in this dish. I like to use either ziti, penne, or rigatoni, because the inside of the macaroni traps bits of tomato and eggplant.
I usually make this dish with canned tomatoes. Sometimes I buy a rather large can of Nina San Marzano tomatoes from Costco. I use about 4 cups of the tomatoes then freeze the rest (these tomatoes are so cheap and good). You can use the smaller cans, too. If the tomatoes are whole, I crush them over the pot with my fingers, breaking up the tomato into bite size pieces. If I’m in a hurry, I use canned crushed tomatoes. Any of these will work, as long as you end up with about 3-4 cups of sauce when you’re finished.
I usually buy a loaf of Italian or semolina bread a day or two before I make this dish. This makes it easier to turn the bread into crumbs using a hand cheese grater. Coating the eggplant with salt and allowing it to sit for an hour or so is the most important part of this dish. Otherwise, the eggplant can be bitter. I love the flavor of the eggplant, so I don’t normally sprinkle cheese over the macaroni. I think you can probably really change-up the flavor of this dish by grilling or roasting the eggplant instead of frying. Eggplant cooked any way is good.
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- ¼ cup onion, chopped
- 36 ounces of canned tomatoes
- salt and pepper
- 6 basil leaves
- 1 large bay leaf
- pinch of crushed red pepper
- 2 medium eggplant
- 4 teaspoons kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup fresh bread crumbs
- 1 pound of ziti, penne, or rigatoni
- grated parmigiano-reggiano or pecorino romano cheese (optional)
- Heat oil in sauce pot over low-medium heat. Add minced garlic and onion and saute, stirring constantly, until the onions are tender, about 3-4 minutes. Add crushed red pepper. Crush tomatoes with your fingers over the pot. Turn up heat to medium-high.Add bay leaf, basil, salt and pepper. Bring sauce to a boil, and cook for about 5 minutes. Cover, and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for about 45 minutes. Adjust salt as desired.
- Peel and cut eggplant in 1-inch cubes. Toss cubes with salt then place in colander to drain for about one hour. Rinse eggplant and pat dry with paper towels
- Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in skillet over medium heat. Add breadcrumbs; stir constantly until toasted, about 2 minutes. Remove from pan.
- Heat ½ cup oil in skillet over medium high heat. Add about half eggplant to skillet (do not overcrowd), and cook until golden brown. Transfer eggplant to paper towels to drain. Add more oil and cook remaining eggplant.
- Cook macaroni in large pot of salted boiling water until al dente, about 10-12 minutes. Drain. Add macaroni to bowl with eggplant and cover with about 3 or 4 cups of the sauce. Add breadcrumbs and toss together. If desired, sprinkle with grated cheese.
I shared this recipe at these awesome parties.