Bucatini with Eggplant

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2 medium eggplants
kosher salt
oil, for deep frying
1/4 cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and bruised
1 chili pepper; cut in half
1 pound ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
a few small basil leaves
13 ounces bucatini
3/4 cup freshly grated, salted ricotta

Slice the eggplants, sprinkle the slices on both sides with kosher salt and place them on a sloping chopping board to drain for 2 or 3 hours to rid them of their bitter juices. Wash the slices under running water; then dry completely on paper towels.

Deep-fry in hot oil until golden; place on paper towels to drain.

Meanwhile, in a shallow terracotta pan or a saucepan, make the tomato sauce: Heat the olive oil, then add the garlic cloves and the chili pepper. Then cook on medium heat until the garlic begins to become golden brown; then remove them from the pan and discard.

Add the tomatoes and the basil and season with salt. The tomato sauce will be ready in approximately 15 or 20 minutes. Discard the chili pepper once the sauce is thoroughly cooked.

Cook the bucatini in a large pan in boiling salted water until al dente; drain.

Layer the pasta in a large tureen adding a few slices of fried eggplant, a little of the sauce, and a coating of ricotta between the layers. Continue in this manner until all the ingredients are used. Serve.

Serves 4

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