Made with eggplant, tomatoes and bell peppers, cooked together, low and slow in a bath of olive oil and roasted garlic, this savory, umami-rich ragù is tossed with al dente pasta (any shape you like) then finished with crumbles of creamy goat cheese.
This pasta borrows inspiration from a classic Sicilian recipe; Pasta alla Norma, a dish made with cubed, sautéed eggplant tossed with tomato sauce and topped with shards of salty ricotta salata.
In this version the eggplant is peeled, cut into planks, seared until golden brown then transferred to the oven where it roasts together with tomatoes, peppers, garlic, shallot and olive oil. Cooking the eggplant this way allows it to break down and melt into a thick, unctuous sauce. It’s almost like a tomatoey eggplant confit.
As the vegetables cook their flavor concentrates, the eggplant soaks up the moisture from the tomatoes and bell peppers, the garlic softens and caramelizes infusing the surrounding olive oil with the flavor of roasted garlic.
The ingredients are then pulsed together in a blender or food processor, tossed with piping hot pasta and finished with crumbles of creamy goat cheese and fresh basil leaves.
Looking for the perfect pairing? Serve Slow-Roasted Eggplant Ragù with Dandelion Salad with Pecorino and Lemon or Cacio e Pepe Zucchini.
Here’s what you need to make Slow-Roasted Eggplant Ragù: eggplant, tomatoes, bell peppers, garlic, shallot, fresh basil, olive oil, goat cheese.
Scroll to the bottom of the recipe card for ingredient notes and substitutions.
Tips for Buying and Storing Eggplant: Look for eggplant that feel heavy and firm to the touch. The skin should be shiny and free of blemishes, shriveling or soft spots. Store eggplant at room temperature until you’re ready to cook it.
Recipe Step by Step:
Step 1. Sear the Eggplant
Peel the eggplant and cut it into large planks. In batches, sear the eggplant pieces in olive oil until caramelized on all sides.
Step 2. Slow-Roast the Eggplant
Next, transfer the seared eggplant to a baking tray along with the tomatoes, peppers, garlic, shallots and olive oil. Season generously with salt then bake for 1 hour-90 minutes or until the vegetables are super soft and caramelized.
Step 3. Pulse the Sauce in a Blender
Transfer the roasted vegetable mixture to a blender or food processor and pulse until well combined–but not completely smooth.
Step 4. Serve
Toss the sauce together with pasta and a splash of starchy pasta water. Just before serving, crumble in the goat cheese and fresh basil leaves.
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Slow-Roasted Eggplant Ragù with Goat Cheese and Basil
- 2 large eggplant
- 2 pounds cherry tomatoes larger tomatoes work too–cut in halves or quarters
- 2 red bell peppers quartered, stems and seeds removed
- 8 large unpeeled cloves of garlic
- 2-3 large shallots halved
- ½ cup olive oil plus more for searing the eggplant
- 6-8 large basil leaves plus more for serving
- 1 lb short-cut pasta
- 6 oz goat cheese
- kosher salt
- 1 pound pasta any shape
- Preheat the oven to 300 F. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.
- While the pan is preheating, cut off the stem of each eggplant then peel and discard the skin. Use a sharp knife to slice each eggplant in half lengthwise then cut each half into quarters or thirds depending on the size.
- Pour about ¼ cup of olive oil into the pan, enough to coat the surface in a thin even layer. Next, add half of the eggplant pieces to the pan (or as many as will comfortably fit without overcrowding). Cook until golden brown on all sides, flipping halfway through, about 4 minutes per side (you may need to adjust the heat between medium and medium-high as you go). Transfer to a plate and season with salt. Repeat with the remaining eggplant, using more olive oil as needed. Remove skillet from heat.
- If your skillet is large enough to hold all of the eggplant, tomatoes and peppers then go ahead and use that. If not, a baking tray or high-sided casserole dish will work just fine. Place the seared eggplant, tomatoes, garlic cloves, peppers and shallots into your chosen baking vessel. Drizzle the olive oil over top and season generously with salt.
- Transfer the mixture to the oven and bake for 1hr-90 minutes. Stirring every 30 minutes or so. It's ready once the vegetables have become completely soft and slightly caramelized around the edges.
- Remove the skillet from the oven and fold in the basil leaves. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes. During this time the basil will "steep" into the sauce. While the basil is steeping boil off the pasta, reserve 1-cup of pasta water before draining.
- Transfer the eggplant mixture to a blender or food processor. Pulse until all of the ingredients are finely minced but not completely smooth. Taste and season with additional salt as needed.
- Add the sauce back into the skillet along with the cooked pasta and ½ cup of pasta water. Fold everything together over medium-low heat. Just before serving, crumble in the goat cheese. Divide between bowls and top with torn basil leaves. Serve warm.
- Eggplant: Look for eggplant that feel heavy and firm to the touch. The skin should be shiny and free of blemishes, shriveling or soft spots. Store eggplant at room temperature until you’re ready to cook it.
- Tomatoes: I specify cherry tomatoes because they cook evenly with the eggplant and tend to be the best year-round tomato in my opinion. That said, any tomato will work; heirlooms, beefsteak, romas, use what looks best at the market. If using a larger variety, cut them into halves or quarters.
- Goat Cheese: Feta would be great too or dollops of whole milk ricotta.
- Leftover Slow-Roasted Eggplant Ragù can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat over low heat in a saucepan or in the microwave. Add a few tablespoons of water to loosen up the sauce as needed.
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