Friday, August 30, 2013


As retailers and magazine editors are pushing us into the next season, fellow bloggers are jumping on the wagon with their pumpkin and apple recipes.
I know that they’re genuinely excited, but I’m just not there yet.  

Starbucks is launching its line of fall inspired coffee drinks, and so many of y’all are waiting in line for your pumpkin lattes; but I’m still ordering the iced drinks of summer.

I love summer and its lazy days and I hate to see it go.

I suspect that it’s because I’ve just got back home after 6 weeks of visiting family and I miss them so.  Holding on to summer is my way of denying that I won’t get to see them for almost another year!  Boo hoo!  

It may also be that it’s still 95 degrees and horribly humid in South Florida (which means that my curly hair is horribly large and frizzy) and will remain that until around Halloween, while in other regions of the continent the days are getting shorter and the temperatures cooler.  

Whatever the reason, it’s fair to say that this chick won’t be posting cool weather recipes for at least a few more weeks.

I feel like this pasta dish can be enjoyed in warm or cool weather, it’s loaded with veggies and the eggplant has an almost meaty texture to it, but the comforting tomato sauce is still nice and light.  I added a dollop of sweet and creamy ricotta cheese…just because I wanted to!
Here’s what you do.

I like to cut the eggplant about the same size as the pasta.

Since rigatoni is large size pasta, the eggplant is cut into 1 ½ inch pieces and the peppers are about 1 inch pieces.  If using penne pasta I would cut the eggplant into 1 inch pieces and the bell pepper slightly smaller than the eggplant.

You may use any red, orange or green bell pepper.  Red bell pepper is my preference, but I only had half of one in my refrigerator so I used half red and half green.

Grated onion dissolves into and brings sweetness to the sauce without being distracted by big bites of onion.

Since the grater is out, go ahead and grate a couple of cloves of garlic too.

Heat 1/4 cup of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

Add the eggplant and bell pepper; sprinkle them with a little salt and toss the veggies so that they are coated with the oil.

Cook while stirring every couple of minutes.
Once the eggplant is browned add the grated onion and garlic, cook while stirring for about a minute.

Add a large can of tomatoes and the juices.

You can use diced; I just always have whole tomatoes on hand.

Whole tomatoes will need a rough chop.

You will also need a teaspoon of Italian seasoning (or Herbs de Provence).  Give it a stir and turn the heat down to medium-low to simmer for about 20 minutes.

While the sauce is cooking, cook the rigatoni in boiling salted water.

Cook the pasta for about 3 minutes less than the package states.

Remove 1 cup of the pasta water and put that to the side.

Now drain the pasta.

Add the rigatoni back into the pot that it was cooked in along with the cooked sauce and ½ cup of the pasta cooking water.

Cook while stirring, over medium heat until the pasta is cooked to your liking; if necessary add the remaining ½ cup of pasta water.

By finishing the cooking of the pasta in the sauce, the pasta actually absorbs some of the sauce, making for a more flavorful dish!

Add a handful of fresh flat leaf parsley at the very end of cooking.

The pasta tastes really delicious just like this and doesn't necessarily need anything else...

...But I had a craving for sweet and creamy ricotta cheese, so I added a dollop!

Actually Rigatoni with Eggplant & Ricotta was created in an effort to satisfy a craving I had for eggplant rollatini. I’m on a bit of a health kick lately, and this pasta has the elements of eggplant rollatini, but is lighter in fat and calories.  It totally satisfied my craving, and Billy loved it; even when we had leftovers for dinner the next night!


Serves 6

1              lb.           Eggplant, cut into 1 ½ inch cubes
1                            Bell pepper (red, orange or green), cut into 1 inch pieces
¼             cup         Olive oil
                             Salt and pepper to taste
¼                           Large onion, grated
2              cloves      Garlic, grated or put through a garlic press
1-28         oz. can     Tomatoes and juice, diced or whole (if using whole give them a rough chop)
1              tsp.         Italian seasoning or Herbs de Provence
1-16          oz. box     Rigatoni
1              cup         Water that is reserved from cooking the pasta
1/3           cup         Flat leaf parsley chopped
½             cup         Ricotta cheese (optional)

   1.       Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add the eggplant and bell pepper to the hot skillet; sprinkle just a little salt over the veggies and toss the veggies to coat them in the olive oil.  Cook while stirring occasionally, until the eggplant is browned, about 5 minutes.
   2.       Once the eggplant is browned add the grated onion and garlic, cook and stir for about a minute.  Add the tomatoes, the Italian seasoning (or herbs de Provence), salt and pepper to taste.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for about 20 minutes.
   3.       Meanwhile, put a large pot of water on to boil and cook the rigatoni according to the package directions, EXCEPT, cook the pasta for about 3 minutes less than the directions state.
   4.       When the pasta is cooked, reserve about 1 cup of the water and then drain the pasta.  Add the pasta back to the pot along with the cooked pasta sauce.  Cook, while stirring, over medium heat, add about ½ cup of the pasta water to loosen the sauce (if necessary add the remaining ½ cup), until the pasta is cooked to your liking.
   5.       At the last moment stir in the flat leaf parsley.
   6.       Serve in bowls and garnish with a heaping tablespoon of ricotta cheese.

Notes: *Remove the ½ cup of ricotta cheese to a bowl, and allow it to sit out at room temperature while the pasta is being made, if the ricotta is cold it will make the dish cold.

** Penne pasta would also be great in this dish.  If using penne, cut the veggies into slightly smaller sizes.

You may also like:
Mama T's Stuffed Eggplant    
Spaghetti Squash Spaghetti with Turkey Meatballs

Lighten Up Shrimp Scampi Pasta

Penne Pasta with Grilled Veggies and Smoked Gouda