Rigatoni with EggplantCarrabba's Restaurant Recipe
2 medium firm eggplant, ends trimmed and sliced from stem to end, 1 inch thick
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.