Bucatini With Sausage, Tomato and Roasted Eggplant

Chris and I were recently away for the week and my mom came to stay with the girls.  Upon our return, I was craving Chinese food and the girls were craving anything but Chinese food. Although my mom made them some of their favorite dishes, they were in a bit of withdrawal from having only Chinese.  And while we were gone, I was not able to get my daily Asian food fix.  My mom was nice enough to have made us a Chinese meal the night we returned and since then, we've had a few solid requests from the girls including fried chicken, cheeseburgers, and tonight's pasta.  This is a variation on many of the red sauce pastas I've made in the past, and although Stella asked for her's to leave the eggplant aside, I'm going to sneak it in there and see what happens.

12 oz mild Italian sausage
2 pounds Roma tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons sugar
2 small or 1 large eggplant
1 cup olive oil, approximately
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
handful of fresh basil leaves, torn (about 1/4 cup packed whole leaves)
freshly ground pepper to taste
freshly grated parmesan to finish
1 1/2 pounds dried bucatini pasta

First roast the eggplant.  Slice the eggplant into 1/2" thick rounds.  Warm about 1/3 cup of the olive oil and brush the eggplant on both sides.  I used the oil I had saved from when I roasted tomatoes a couple weeks ago.  Heating the oil a bit makes it thinner and easier to brush the eggplant.  Lightly salt and pepper.
Roast the eggplant at 400f for about 15 minutes, flipping once.  Finish by putting them under the broiler for a minute or so to brown.
Let cool slightly and roughly chop.  Set aside.

Seed the tomatoes by cutting them half cross-wise and squeezing out the seeds.  Chop the tomatoes.
Heat a large wide pan over medium high heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
Brown the sausage, then turn heat down to medium and add the garlic cloves until fragrant.  
Add 1/2 cup of the olive oil and once it's heated, add the tomatoes.
Turn the heat back up to medium high and saute the tomatoes until softened.  Add the salt and sugar and then let cook for another 4-5 minutes.
Add the eggplant and cook until just heated and then stir in the mascarpone and balsamic and finish with adding the basil.
If you want to start the sauce in advance, you can cook it up to the point of the tomatoes and wait to add the eggplant and mascarpone when you reheat the sauce to serve.

While the sauce is cooking, prepare the pasta according to package instructions.
I made a large pot of sauce so that I could have enough pasta for leftovers and school lunches.  Depending on how much sauce you like on your pasta, we like lots!, this could make up to 8 servings.  
Drain the pasta and toss with the sauce.  Serve with freshly grated parmesan or parmigiano reggiano.
The eggplant is a good twist and I am a lover of eggplant.  The girls did not notice a big difference in taste, so it's a good way to get in another vegetable into the pasta.


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