Sweet Sausage and Eggplant Penne
- 1 medium firm eggplant
- 2 tablespoons EVOO, plus some for drizzling
- 1 pound Italian sweet sausage with fennel
- 3 to 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 rib celery from heart, finely chopped
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- One 32-ounce can crushed San Marzano tomatoes
- A few fresh basil leaves, torn
- Chicken stock, optional
- 1 pound penne or whole grain penne
- Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
Peel half the skin from the eggplant and then chop into bite-size pieces. Sprinkle the eggplant with salt, and drain a few minutes on paper towels.
Heat the oil over medium-high heat, and add the sausage. Crumble the sausage and cook until brown. Add the garlic, celery and onions to the sausage. Pat the moisture off of the eggplant and stir the pieces into the mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Cook the vegetables, partially covered, to soften, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes and basil. Bring to a bubble and simmer the sauce to combine the flavors.
Cool and store for a make-ahead meal. Reheat the sauce on the stovetop over medium heat. If the sauce is too thick add a little water or chicken stock if using to thin it out.
To serve, bring a pot of water to a boil. Salt the boiling water and cook the pasta to al dente. Add about 1 cup of starchy water to the sauce. Then drain the pasta and toss with the sauce. Adjust the seasoning, then serve in shallow bowls and top with grated cheese and a drizzle of EVOO.