Carrabba's Italian Grill was founded by Johnny Carrabba and Damian Mandola in Houston, Texas in 1986. The restaurant features hand-prepared family recipes made from the finest ingredients and prepared to order in an exhibition kitchen. The success of Carrabba's led to the popular PBS cooking show Cucina!, starring Carrabba and Mandola, as well as a series of companion cookbooks. There are currently 240 Carrabba's Italian Grill locations around the country.

Offering Italian-inspired cuisine passed down from our founders’ family recipes, Carrabba’s uses only the best ingredients to prepare fresh and handmade dishes cooked to order in a lively exhibition kitchen. Featuring a wood-burning grill inspired by the many tastes of Italy, customers can enjoy signature dishes, including Chicken Bryan, Spiedino di Mare and a fresh twist on an Italian Classic, Wood-grilled Chicken Marsala. Carrabba’s was voted #1 Italian in the 2014 Consumer Picks Survey by Nation’s Restaurant News.

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Rigatoni with Eggplant


Rigatoni with Eggplant

Carrabba's Restaurant Recipe

Serves 4-6

2  medium firm eggplant, ends trimmed and sliced from stem to end, 1 inch thick
kosher salt
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium red onion, peeled, finely chopped
4 large cloves garlic, peeled and lightly crushed
6 anchovy fillets, preferably salt-packed and rinsed or packed in oil, drained, finely chopped
1 1/2 pounds canned whole peeled Italian tomatoes, de-seeded and crushed fine by hand
2 teaspoons sugar
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons capers, preferably salt-packed, rinsed of salt or capers in brine, rinsed
4 large fresh basil leaves, each torn into 2-3 pieces
8-10 fresh mint leaves, torn in half
1 pound rigatoni
1/2 cup caciocavallo cheese, cut in shards or roughly chopped (can substitute imported Provolone)
grated caciocavallo or Romano cheese

To Prepare: Salt eggplant slices lightly on both sides with kosher salt. Place slices in a colander. Put a plate on top of the eggplant. Place a heavy weight on the plate. Let the eggplant sit for 30 minutes. Rinse eggplant with cold water. Pat dry with paper towels. Cut eggplant slices into 1-inch cubes.

Heat 1/2 cup of the olive oil in a large skillet over high heat, until very hot. Add the eggplant and cook until golden brown and cooked through. Drain eggplant on paper towel lined pan. Set aside.

Place a large pot with 6 quarts of water on the stove to boil. In a large skillet, heat remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, stirring frequently until the onion is very soft and starting to caramelize. Add the garlic and saute for 5 minutes, then remove the garlic and add the chopped anchovy. Cook another minute to let anchovy dissolve. Add the tomatoes and sugar. Raise the heat and bring sauce to a boil.

Reduce heat, add salt and pepper to taste, and the red pepper, and let simmer 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in the carpers, eggplant, and herbs. Add 2 tablespoons of kosher salt to the now boiling water. Drop the pasta in the pot.

To Serve:  When pasta is al dente, drain and add to the skillet with the sauce, over a low heat. Toss, add the shards of caciocavallo (or Provolone). Toss for 1 to 2 minutes or until the cheese is soft and gooey. Transfer pasta to a warm serving platter. Sprinkle over with grated caciocavallo or Romano. Serve, passing extra grated cheese.

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