SAVEUR associate food editor Kellie Evans adds spicy Italian sausage to pasta heavy with eggplant and sweet tomatoes—a riff on classic pasta alla norma.
- 1 medium eggplant, cut into 3/4″ cubes
- 5 tbsp. olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 small yellow onion, minced
- 1 tsp. crushed red chile flakes
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 lb. spicy Italian sausage, casing removed
- 1 (28-oz.) can whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes, undrained and crushed by hand
- 16 fresh basil leaves, torn by hand
- 8 oz. rigatoni
- 2 oz. Pecorino Romano, grated
Heat oven to 500°. Put eggplant into a bowl and drizzle with 2 tbsp. oil. Toss to combine and season with salt and pepper. Transfer eggplant to baking sheet and bake, turning occasionally, until soft and caramelized, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a rack; set aside.
Heat remaining oil in a 6-qt. saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add chile flakes and garlic and cook, stirring, until garlic softens, about 3 minutes. Add sausage and cook, using a wooden spoon to break up into small pieces until browned, 16–18 minutes. Add tomatoes and half the basil, season with salt, and cook until heated through, about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until just al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain pasta and transfer to tomato sauce. Stir in reserved eggplant and toss to combine. Stir in remaining basil and season with salt. To serve, transfer pasta to a platter and garnish with Pecorino.