Fresh Basil Pasta with Eggplant and Tomato

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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 3 hr
  • Active: 1 hr
  • Yield: 6 servings
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Ingredients

For the Pasta:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1/2 cup fine semolina flour

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil 

2 tablespoons finely grated parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons finely grated pecorino romano cheese

Kosher salt

3/4 cup whole milk 

2 large eggs 

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 

For the Sauce:

1 large eggplant (about 1 1/2 pounds), cut into 1-inch chunks

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

5 cloves garlic, smashed

Pinch of red pepper flakes

1 28-ounce can whole peeled Italian tomatoes, crushed with your hands

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil, plus 1/2 cup torn leaves

8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

Grated pecorino Romano cheese, for topping

Directions

  1. Make the pasta: Whisk both flours, the basil, both cheeses and 1 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Whisk the milk, eggs and olive oil in a separate bowl, then pour into the flour mixture and stir with a fork until the dough comes together. Knead the dough on a floured surface with floured hands until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes, adding more flour as needed so the dough is soft but not sticky. Wrap in plastic wrap; let rest at room temperature for 2 hours.
  2. Cut the dough into quarters. Working with one piece at a time (keep the rest wrapped in plastic), roll the dough through a pasta machine on the thickest setting. Continue rolling the dough through progressively thinner settings, dusting with flour as needed, until it is about 1/8 inch thick. Using a knife, cut the sheet of dough into 4-by-1/4-inch noodles. Dust the noodles with more flour, then scatter on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough. Cover the pasta with a kitchen towel and set aside until ready to cook or refrigerate up to 4 hours. 
  3. Make the sauce: Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Toss the eggplant, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper in a large bowl. Spread on a baking sheet and roast, stirring once or twice, until tender and browned, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove to a plate and set aside. 
  4. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil with the garlic and red pepper flakes in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook until the garlic is tender and golden, about 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes, then add 1 cup water to the empty can and add to the saucepan. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the chopped basil and season with salt and pepper. 
  5. Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until it floats to the top and is tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water; drain the pasta and return to the pot. Add the sauce and cook over medium heat, stirring, until coated, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, three-quarters of the eggplant, the mozzarella and 1/4 cup torn basil. Add the reserved cooking water as needed to loosen. Transfer to a large shallow bowl. Top with the remaining eggplant and 1/4 cup torn basil; sprinkle with pecorino.