Baked eggplant pasta combines roasted eggplant, ricotta, mozzarella, and rigatoni tossed in a tomato sauce and baked until golden and bubbly. While you can make this dish all year long, it’s an especially great way to use up all that summer eggplant.
Eggplant is one of our favorite ingredients, so it made sense to do a baked eggplant pasta.
Ingredients-wise, it’s similar to pasta Siciliana, but the baking process yields so much goodness, especially from the crispy baked rigatoni noodles.
Baked pastas are excellent in the cooler months, but this is one that we’ll make in the summer when the eggplant is abundant!
How to make it
Each number corresponds to the numbered written steps below.
- Preheat the oven to 425 and set the rack to the middle. Dice 1 medium onion and slice 4 cloves of garlic. Shred 1 pound of mozzarella and grate a 1/2 cup of Pecorino Romano. Chop 1/4 cup of basil leaves and cut 2 medium-sized 1-inch eggplants into cubes. Toss the cubes with 3/4 cup of olive oil and season with 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Spread the eggplant out onto a baking tray (or two to prevent crowding) and roast in the oven for 20-30 minutes turning the eggplant at the halfway point. The eggplant is done when soft enough to pierce with a knife and well-browned. Note: We love the skin on eggplant so we leave it on, but if you prefer to peel them, do so prior to cubing.
- While the eggplant is roasting, heat a large saucepan over medium-low and add 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil and the onion. Saute until the onion is soft, about 5-7 minutes, then add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes, if using, and cook for another 30 seconds.
- Add 3 ounces of tomato paste and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add 2 28-ounce cans of hand-crushed or blender-pulsed tomatoes and bring the sauce to a lively simmer, then bring to a low simmer and cook for at least 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Taste the sauce and adjust salt and pepper as needed.
- Reduce the oven temp to 375f. Bring a pot of salted water to boil and cook 1 pound of rigatoni or other tubular pasta until 2 minutes less than al dente, then add it to a large bowl with 3 1/2 cups of the sauce, the basil, and all of the ricotta, Pecorino, and 3/4 of the mozzarella cheese. Mix until smooth and creamy, then add 3/4 of the roasted eggplant and gently fold in.
- Coat a 9×13″ baking dish with 1 cup of sauce.
- Pour the pasta mixture into the dish and distribute evenly.
- Add the remaining eggplant to the top.
- Top with the remaining mozzarella cheese and 1/2 cup of sauce.
- Bake the eggplant pasta in the oven for 25 minutes or until browned on the top. If you’d like extra color, broil for another 1-2 minutes but watch carefully to avoid burning. Wait at least 10-15 minutes before serving to allow the pasta to settle. Enjoy!
- Eggplant. Select eggplants that are firm and shiny. The myth about male vs. female eggplants has been debunked. For more on that, listen to our podcast where we discuss popular food myths and whether or not they are accurate. When roasting the eggplant initially, be sure to cook it through so there is no resistance when pierced with a fork or a knife.
- Pasta. We used rigatoni but this would be great with ziti, penne, tortiglioni, or any other tubular pasta. Be sure to undercook it to 2 minutes less than al dente. We do this to prevent mushy pasta as it will continue to cook as it’s baked in the oven.
- Sauce. This recipe makes enough sauce for the baked eggplant pasta. Note: If you desire more sauce on the side, add an extra can of crushed tomatoes to the sauce. You can add a bit more onion and garlic, but it’s not necessary.
More eggplant recipes
Eggplant really is the star of this dish! If you love eggplant as much as we do, you’ll enjoy these other recipes.
- Pasta alla Norma – eggplant, ricotta salata, fresh basil, and tomato.
- Stuffed eggplant – roasted and stuffed with breadcrumbs, pine nuts, raisins, cheese, mint, and basil.
- Baba ganoush – charred eggplant, tahini, and fresh lemon juice.
If you’ve enjoyed this baked eggplant pasta recipe or any recipe on this site, give it a 5-star rating and leave a review.
Baked Eggplant Pasta
For the sauce
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion diced
- 4 cloves garlic sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes optional
- 3 ounces tomato paste
- 2 28 ounce can plum tomatoes hand crushed or blender pulsed
- salt and pepper to taste
For the baked pasta
- 2 medium eggplants cut into 1-inch cubes
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1 pound rigatoni or ziti, tortiglioni, penne, etc
- 1/4 packed cup basil leaves chopped
- 1 pound mozzarella shredded, divided
- 1 pound ricotta
- 1/2 cup Pecorino Romano grated
- Preheat oven to 425f and set the racks near the middle level.
- Toss the cubed eggplant with a 3/4 cup of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread the eggplant out onto baking trays (probably will need 2 trays) and roast in the oven for 20-30 minutes. Turn the eggplant at halfway point. The eggplant is done when it is well browned and soft when pierced with a knife.
- Meanwhile, make the sauce. Heat a large saucepan to medium-low heat and add the extra virgin olive oil and the onion. Saute until soft (5-7 minutes) then add the garlic and saute for 2-3 minutes more or until fragrant. Add the hot red pepper flakes and cook for another 30 seconds.
- Add the tomato paste and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the plum tomatoes and bring the sauce to a lively simmer.
- Cook for at least 15 minutes uncovered at a low simmer, stirring frequently to avoid any sticking. Taste-test the sauce and adjust salt and pepper if required.
- Bring a pot of salted water to boil and cook the pasta until 2 minutes less than al dente.
- In a very large bowl mix the pasta with 3 1/2 cups of sauce, chopped basil, all of the ricotta, Pecorino Romano, and 3/4 of the mozzarella cheese. Mix until smooth and creamy. Add 3/4 of the roasted eggplant and fold it in gently.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 375f and coat a 9x13" baking dish with 1 cup of sauce. Pour the pasta into the dish and top with the remaining mozzarella cheese and roasted eggplant. Add another 1/2 cup of sauce on top as well.
- Bake the pasta for 25 minutes or until browned on top. For extra color broil for 1-2 more minutes but watch carefully! Wait at least 10-15 minutes before eating so that the pasta settles. Enjoy!
- Makes 8 moderate-sized or 4-6 large portions.
- Undercook the pasta! Fully boiled pasta will become mushy after baking for another 25 minutes, so shoot for a bit firmer than al dente or about 2 minutes less than the box instructions.
- Bake the pasta until the cheese is bubbly and slightly browned on top. For extra color, broil for 1-2 minutes, but watch very carefully to avoid burning.
- Leftovers can be saved in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.