This hearty baked pasta combines sweet Italian sausage with eggplant and two kinds of cheeses. To streamline preparation, the same pan is used for sautéing the vegetables on the stovetop and then baking the pasta dish in the oven.
- 4 tsp. plus 1 Tbs. olive oil
- 3/4 lb. sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
- 1 small eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 cup dry red wine
- 1 can (28 oz.) crushed plum tomatoes with juices
- 5 oz. ziti, cooked until al dente
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
- 1/3 cup rinsed chopped Kalamata olives
- 2 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Position a rack in the upper third of an oven and preheat to 400°F.
In a 10-inch nonstick fry pan over medium-high heat, warm 2 tsp. of the olive oil. Add the sausage and cook, stirring and crumbling with a wooden spoon, until browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.
Discard all but 1 Tbs. of the fat in the pan. Set the pan over medium-high heat and warm 2 tsp. of the olive oil. Add the eggplant and cook, stirring occasionally, under tender and browned, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.
Set the pan over medium heat and warm the remaining 1 Tbs. olive oil. Add the onion and cook until softened, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the wine, increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil, stirring to scrape up the browned bits. Cook until the liquid is almost evaporated, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juices and simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes.
Add the sausage, pasta, basil, olives, 2 cups of the mozzarella and the tomato sauce to the bowl with the eggplant and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the pasta mixture to the fry pan and sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella and the Parmigiano-Reggiano on top. Cover the pan, transfer to the oven and bake for 25 minutes. Uncover the pan and broil at 500°F for 5 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. Serves 6.