Blog

Spicy Eggplant Pasta – Connoisseurus Veg

This hearty eggplant pasta is packed with spicy flavor, fresh herbs, juicy tomatoes, and tender chunks of eggplant. A naturally vegan, vegetarian and optionally gluten-free pasta dinner that will please all appetites and is easy enough for a weeknight!

White wooden surface set with skillet of Eggplant Pasta, fabric, and wooden spoon.

I’m all about pasta dinners. Pretty much always have been! But one thing that’s changed over the years: my preferred veggie to pasta ratio has gone way up.

My favorite pasta dishes are filled with veggies. Pasta by itself is great and all, but these days my favorite pasta sauces aren’t even really sauces — they’re more like mixes of chunky veggies with some interspersed sauce. I was looking for something along those lines when I created this eggplant pasta recipe.

While eggplant, tomatoes and fresh herbs are all in season during summer, they’re pretty much available year round these days, so you can enjoy this dish year round if you’d like.

Jump to:

Ingredients You’ll Need

  • Rigatoni pasta. Rigatoni works great with this recipe because of it’s size. You can get a big forkful of pasta and veggies with every bite. Having said that, any pasta shape will work. Penne, spaghetti and capellini are all great choices!
  • Eggplant. A medium-sized Italian eggplant is ideal for this recipe, but any type will do. I used an heirloom variety (Rosa Bianca) which is why the flesh is pale purple.
  • Olive oil.
  • Onion.
  • Garlic.
  • Diced tomatoes. We’re using canned diced tomatoes. You can use the kind packed in juice or sauce — either works!
  • Crushed tomatoes. If you can’t find these at the store, simply buy an extra can of diced tomatoes and blitz them in a blender.
  • Capers.
  • Red pepper flakes. This will add some heat to the sauce (the “spicy” element of our eggplant pasta). Feel free to leave it out if you prefer a milder dish.
  • Fresh basil.
  • Fresh parsley.
  • Salt & pepper.

Salting Eggplant

You may or may not need to do this, depending on how fresh your eggplant is.

Eggplant cubes salting in a colander.

If your eggplant is very fresh, don’t worry about salting it. If it’s been hanging around for a while or shows some browning when you cut it open, you’ll probably want to salt it to remove some of the bitterness that’s developed over time.

To salt your eggplant, just dice it up according to the recipe and place it in a colander. Generously coat it with salt and let it sit for 30 minutes. Then rinse it well (get as much of the salt out as you can) and pat the pieces dry with a kitchen towel.

How this Dish is Made

The following is a detailed photo tutorial on how to make this dish. Scroll all the way down if you’d like to skip right to the recipe!

  • Boil your pasta according to the package directions, so that it’s al dente. Try to time it so that it’s finished around the same time as the sauce, although it will be fine sitting in the pot for a few minutes.
  • Brown the eggplant. Heat some oil in a large skillet, and don’t be stingy! Eggplant sucks up oil like crazy while it cooks.
  • Add the eggplant in an even layer and cook the pieces for about 10 minutes, flipping them once or twice, until they’re browned on multiple surfaces. They don’t need to be cooked completely through since they’ll also be simmering in the sauce for a bit.

Tip: You may need to cook your eggplant in batches to avoid crowding the skillet. Taking the time to do this will be worth it!

Eggplant pieces browning in a skillet.
  • To make the sauce, sweat some onion in olive oil for a few minutes, until it begins to soften. Add the garlic and cook it briefly with the onion.

Tip: I like to start the sauce in a separate skillet while the eggplant cooks, but you also have the option of using the same skillet and cooking the components in succession. It’s up to you whether you’d prefer to save time or minimize dirty dishes!

  • Add diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, capers red pepper flakes, and salt to the sauce. I used a teaspoon of red pepper flakes, for a mildly spicy sauce, but adjust the amount to your liking.
  • Let the sauce simmer for a bit, until it thickens slightly, then add the eggplant and let it simmer for a few minutes more.
Eggplant cooking in tomato sauce in a skillet.
  • Stir in the cooked pasta, basil, and parsley. Toss everything a few times, until the herbs wilt, then take the skillet off of the burner.
Eggplant Pasta cooking in a skillet.
  • Season the pasta with some additional salt and black pepper if desired, then serve!
Plate of Eggplant Pasta on a white wooden surface.

Variation: Roasted Eggplant Pasta

If you prefer to roast your eggplant, simply toss your diced eggplant with olive oil. I recommend using 2 tablespoons, but less will work if you’re trying to reduce the fat content. Arrange the eggplant on a baking sheet and roast the pieces for about 15 minutes at 400°F.

Leftovers & Storage

Leftover eggplant pasta will keep in a sealed container in the fridge for 3 to 4 days.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can this recipe be made gluten-free?

Yes! Just use gluten-free pasta.

Do I need to peel the eggplant?

Nope, but you certainly can if you’d like to. It’s really a matter of personal preference. I don’t mind skin on my eggplant.

How spicy is this eggplant pasta?

It’s about a mild/medium on the spicy scale. For a spicier version, add some extra red pepper flakes. For a milder version, leave them out.

Close up of Eggplant Pasta in a cast iron skillet.

More Vegan Pasta Recipes

Like this recipe? If so, please stop back and leave me a review and rating below if you try it! Also be sure to follow me on Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram, or subscribe to my newsletter for more recipes like this one!

Skillet of Eggplant Pasta.

Spicy Eggplant Pasta

This hearty eggplant pasta is packed with spicy flavor, fresh herbs, juicy tomatoes, and tender chunks of eggplant. A naturally vegan, vegetarian and optionally gluten-free pasta dinner that will please all appetites and is easy enough for a weeknight!

Ingredients

  • 8
    ounces
    dried rigatoni pasta
  • 3
    tablespoons
    olive oil,
    plus more if needed, divided
  • 1
    medium (1 pound or 450 gram) eggplant,
    salted if necessary, cut into ½ inch cubes
  • 1
    medium onion,
    diced
  • 5
    garlic cloves,
    minced
  • 1
    (14 ounce or 400 gram) can
    diced tomatoes
  • 1
    cup
    canned crushed tomatoes
  • 3
    tablespoons
    capers
  • 1
    teaspoon
    crushed red pepper flakes,
    or to taste
  • ½
    teaspoon
    salt,
    plus more to taste
  • ½
    cup
    chopped fresh basil,
    plus more for serving, optional
  • ¼
    cup
    chopped fresh parsley,
    plus more for serving, optional
  • Black pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook it according to the package directions, until al dente. Drain the pasta into a colander when it’s finished cooking.

  2. While the pasta cooks, coat the bottom of a large skillet with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and place it over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the diced eggplant in an even layer. (Notes 1 and 2)

  3. Cook the eggplant for about 10 minutes, flipping the pieces only once or twice, until they’re browned on multiple sides.

  4. Remove the eggplant from the skillet and transfer it to a plate when it’s finished browning.

  5. While the eggplant cooks, coat the bottom of a large pot or skillet with the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and place it over medium heat.

  6. When the oil is hot, add the onion. Sweat the onion for about 5 minutes, until soft and translucent, stirring frequently.

  7. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more, until very fragrant.

  8. Stir in the diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, capers, red pepper flakes, and ½ teaspoon of salt.

  9. Bring the sauce to a simmer, and allow it to cook, uncovered, for about 10 minutes, until it thickens up a bit. You can add a splash of water if it becomes too thick.

  10. Stir the eggplant into the sauce and let the mixture simmer for about 5 minutes more, until the sauce very thick and the eggplant is very tender.

  11. Add the cooked pasta, parsley and basil to the sauce and stir everything well to distribute the ingredients and wilt the herbs.

  12. Remove the pot from heat and season the pasta with additional salt and black pepper to taste.

  13. Divide onto plates and serve. Sprinkle with additional parsley and basil, if desired.

Recipe Notes

  1. If you prefer to roast your eggplant, toss the pieces with 2 tablespoons of olive oil (or less if desired), and arrange them on a baking sheet. Roast the eggplant at 400°F for about 15 minutes.
  2. Avoid crowding the skillet when cooking your eggplant. This may mean cooking it in batches.

Nutrition Facts

Spicy Eggplant Pasta

Amount Per Serving

Calories 393
Calories from Fat 108

% Daily Value*

Fat 12g18%

Saturated Fat 1.7g9%

Sodium 326mg14%

Potassium 718mg21%

Carbohydrates 62.6g21%

Fiber 10.2g41%

Sugar 12.4g14%

Protein 11.8g24%

Calcium 70mg7%

Iron 4mg22%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.



Related Articles

Back to top button