1 small to medium eggplant, half the skin peeled off in strips, then flesh diced
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
1 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 pounds ground veal
10-12 leaves fresh sage, thinly sliced
A few grates of fresh nutmeg or a pinch of ground nutmeg
1 small onion, finely chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1/3 cup half-and-half
1 pound strozzapreti, pici or other sturdy cut pasta
Grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
Season the eggplant with salt and let drain on a kitchen towel for a few minutes.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
In a Dutch oven or large, deep skillet, heat the EVOO, two turns of the pan, over medium heat; melt the butter into the EVOO. Add the veal and cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper; add the sage and nutmeg. Increase the heat to medium-high; stir in the onion, garlic and eggplant. Partially cover the pan and cook, stirring, until the vegetables soften, 7-8 minutes. Add the tomato paste; cook 1 minute. Add the wine, scraping the bottom of the pan. Add the stock and half-and-half. Reduce the heat to medium- low and simmer the ragu while the pasta cooks.
Salt the boiling water, then cook the pasta until al dente. Drain, reserving half a mug of the startchy cooking water. Stir some of the starchy cooking water into the ragu, then toss the pasta with the ragu. Season; top with grated cheese.