Eggplants have a really creamy texture after just a bit of cooking. A brief toss with some coarse salt, a 30 minute rest, and a rinse under cold water removes a good deal of the eggplant's bitterness. Capers and green olives give the dish a little sparkle while red pepper flakes give it some heat. While we had it without any cheese, some feta, ricotta salata, or Parmesan would all work well and be a nice compliment to the dish.
2 eggplants (about 1 1/2 pounds total), peeled in stripes
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 to 5 shallots, coarsely chopped (2/3 cup)
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 can (28 ounces) plum tomatoes in tomato puree, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup green olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
4 teaspoons capers, rinsed and drained
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
8 ounces rigatoni
1. Halve the eggplants lengthwise, then cut into 1/2-inch dice. Place the eggplant in a colander, sprinkle coarse salt over and toss to coat. Place the colander in the sink or over a bowl and let stand 30 minutes.
2. Rinse and drain the eggplant and squeeze dry. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-low; add the shallots and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally until the shallots are tender, about 3 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water cook the rigatoni until al dente; drain.
4. Add the eggplant to the pan along with the olives and capers and cook, stirring frequently until the eggplant is tender, about 7 minutes. Add the tomatoes and red pepper flakes; season with salt and cook, stirring occasionally until the eggplant is very tender, about 10 minutes. Toss the eggplant with the pasta and serve.