Roasted Eggplant Penne with Italian Sausage

Roasted eggplant, garlic, Italian sausage, basil and cheese! How could this be anything but spectacular!

Ingredients:
Serves 4

  • 1 small to medium sized eggplant
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  •  about 2 Tbs of olive oil to coat the eggplant
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1 tsp of pepper
  • 1 lb of Italian sausage
  • 1 Tbs of olive oil  (for browning sausage and onion)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • a pinch of chili flakes (or to taste)
  • 1 – 28 oz can of good quality whole Italian tomatoes with their juices
  • 12 leaves of fresh basil, chopped, divided use
  • 8 oz of pasta, rigatoni or penne
  • 3 oz of Ricotta Salata or Pecorino Romano cheese, grated

    Directions
    Preheat oven to 425°

Start by peeling the eggplant, cut the top off and cut into small chunks. Place the eggplant and the garlic cloves on a baking sheet, drizzle with the oil, sprinkle with salt & pepper, toss with your hands to coat evenly and bake for 20 minutes.Heat 1 Tbs of olive oil over medium/ high heat in a large skillet or heavy bottomed pot. Add in the sausage, onion and chili flakes and cook for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of salted water, according to package directions for al dente, drain and keep warm.Add the roasted eggplant and garlic into the skillet with the sausage, then squish up the tomatoes with your fingers and add them into the skillet with half of the basil and cook for 10 minutes over medium heat. (break up the garlic cloves with a wooden spoon) Give it a taste and add more salt if needed. Stir in most of the cheese, save a little for serving. Then add in the cooked pasta, stir well to combine.Place the pasta in a serving bowl, garnish with some of the remaining basil and sprinkle on the remaining cheese! Buon Appetito!

Note to cooks:  Aged Ricotta Salata is the best cheese to use for this pasta but it can be hard to find, Pecorino Romano is a good substitute and is easy to find.

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