'Nduja, Eggplant & Cherry Tomato Pasta
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'Nduja, Eggplant & Cherry Tomato Pasta

"This is a smokier, spicier, more savory twist on classic pasta alla Norma."—Rach

Ingredients

  • 1 large or 2 medium eggplants (about 1 1/2 lb.), trimmed, cut into 1/2-inch-thick planks and then 2-inch batons

  • 5 tbsp. EVOO

  • 4 oz. 'nduja

  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced

  • 2 cans (14 oz. each) Italian cherry tomatoes or 3 cups halved fresh cherry tomatoes

  • 1 tbsp. fresh chopped oregano or 1 tsp. dried

  • 1 lb. orecchiette, penne, or short fusilli

  • Handful of fresh basil, torn

  • Ricotta salata, coarsely grated, for serving

Preparation

  • Step 1

    Arrange eggplant on paper towels and season liberally with salt, then top with another paper towel. Let sit for 20 minutes, then firmly press to release excess liquid. Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta.

  • Step 2

    In a large lidded skillet or pot, heat 2 tbsp. EVOO, two turns of the pan, over medium. Add the 'nduja and cook, breaking up 'nduja with a wooden spoon until it darkens in color, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes (if using canned, gently crush with a spoon or potato masher to burst; if using fresh, just stir into skillet). Season with the oregano and salt. Cover and cook for 15 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally to keep tomatoes from sticking.

  • Step 3

    In another nonstick skillet, heat the remaining 3 tbsp. EVOO, three turns of the pan, over medium-high. Add the eggplant and cook, stirring frequently, until lightly browned, 7 to 8 minutes. While tomato sauce and eggplant cook, salt the boiling water and add the pasta. Cook 1 minute less than the package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta cooking water before draining.

  • Step 4

    Add eggplant to the tomato sauce and toss. Add the pasta, 1/4 cup of reserved pasta water (plus more if needed), and the basil; toss again. Top with ricotta salata and serve.

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