- 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion – chopped
- kosher salt
- 1 ¼ lb eggplant – cut into 1-inch dice
- 4-5 garlic cloves – minced
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- 3 cups marinara sauce
- 1 lb penne agate
- ½ cup fresh basil – torn
- 5 oz fresh mozzarella – whole milk
- freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
- 1/3 cup panko
- In a large saucepan, heat the oil until shimmering.
- Add the onions and a good amount of salt and cook over moderate, occasionally stirring, until translucent.
- Add the eggplant and ¼ cup of water and cook, until the eggplant is fork tender.
- Add the garlic, red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, stirring.
- Stir in the marinara sauce and cook until hot, scraping the bottom of the pan as you go along to get any bits stuck to the bottom of the pan.
- Preheat your broiler and position the rack 8-10 inches from the top.
- In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the penne just until al dente. (You don’t want to overcook because it will cook more in the hot sauce and under the broiler.)
- Stir the pasta while it is cooking so that it does not clump together.
- When the pasta is al dente drain it, reserving ½ cup of the pasta water, stir the pasta into the sauce along with the water, torn basil and season, to taste, with salt and pepper.
- When all nicely combined, transfer the pasta to a 9 X 13-inch baking dish.
- Spread the sliced mozzarella pieces over the top, sprinkle the Parmigiano and then the panko.
- Place under the broiler for about 3-5 minutes, watching carefully, just until the cheese has melted and the panko is slightly browned.
- Serve hot with a nice side salad, pass any extra marinara sauce and cheese. In our house there will undoubtedly be bread, too.