While it’s always preferable to make your sauce from scratch, sometimes you just don’t have the time. My Chunky Eggplant Sauce is inspired by the flavors of Sicilia, filled with eggplants, tomatoes, peppers, garlic, capers, oregano, and sea salt. simmered to perfection – just like Nonna would have made – No Artificial Flavors or Preservatives.
Notes If you are adding in extra eggplant and are able to purchase the smaller Italian eggplants, you can cook them without salting them. If you can only get larger eggplants with lots of seeds, salt the cut pieces and let them drain for an hour in a colander. Rinse well and pat dry before beginning the recipe.
· KOSHER SALT
· 3 TABLESPOONS EXTRA-VIRGIN OLIVE OIL, PLUS MORE FOR BRUSHING THE BAKING DISH
· 2 SMALL ITALIAN EGGPLANT (ABOUT 1 POUND TOTAL) – TO ADD IF YOU CHOOSE
· VEGETABLE OIL, AS NEEDED
· 1 JAR LIDIA’S CHUNKY EGGPLANT SAUCE
· 1 POUND ZITI
· ¼ CUP FRESH BASIL LEAVES, SHREDDED
· 1 CUP FRESH RICOTTA
· 1 CUP GRATED PROVOLONE
· ¼ CUP GRATED GRANA PADANO
Directions Bring a large pot of salted water to boil for the pasta. Brush a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with olive oil. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Bring to simmer 1 jar of Lidia’s Chunky Eggplant Sauce. If you want to add some additional fresh eggplant, use a vegetable peeler to remove vertical stripes from the eggplant. Cut the eggplant into 1 inch cubes. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add enough vegetable oil to film the bottom of the pan. Add half of the eggplant and season with salt. Cook, tossing occasionally, until browned and almost tender, 6 to 7 minutes. Repeat with the remaining eggplant. Carefully pour the oil out of the skillet and wipe it clean with a paper towel. If you are putting additional eggplant cubes, add them to the simmering sauce. You can also stir in the basil if you would like. Meanwhile, add the ziti to the boiling water and cook until al dente. Drain and return to the cooking pot. When the sauce is ready, pour over the pasta and toss to combine. Add the ricotta and stir gently to distribute. Transfer the pasta to the oiled baking dish. Combine the provolone and Grana Padano in a small bowl and sprinkle over the pasta. Bake the pasta until browned and bubbling, 20 to 25 minutes.