Rigatoni with Eggplant Caponata

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We ate most of this tangy relish over pasta and plan to eat the leftovers as a crostini toppingĀ (with basil) or as a sandwich spread (with mozzarella) – YUM! Pasta water can be added to the caponata to make a thinner sauce for pasta, but I prefer a chunky and thick sauce. This recipe was adapted from Everyday Food.

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 large sweet onions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes
  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons sugar, plus more if needed, to taste
  • 2 large eggplants (2 1/4 pounds total), cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2/3 cup red-wine vinegar
  • Coarse salt
  • 1 pound rigatoni
  • freshly grated Parmesan, for serving, if desired
  • fresh basil, for garnish, if desired
  1. In a 5-quart Dutch oven or pot, heat oil over medium-high. Add onion, raisins, pine nuts, garlic, and red-pepper flakes; cook stirring occasionally, until onion has softened, 4 to 6 minutes.
  2. Add tomato paste, cocoa powder, and sugar; cook, stirring, until tomato paste is fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Add eggplant, vinegar, and 2/3 cup water.
  3. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until eggplant is tender and mixture is thick, 7 to 10 minutes. Season with salt and more sugar (up to 2 tablespoons), as desired.
  4. Cook the rigatoni according to the package directions in salted, boiling water. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water.
  5. Combine cooked pasta with approximately 3 cups of the sauce, or as desired. Gradually add reserved pasta water until desired consistency is achieved.
  6. Serve garnished with freshly grated Parmesan and fresh basil, if desired.

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