Spicy Eggplant Pasta

March 30, 2022
14 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Prep time 30 minutes
  • Cook time 20 minutes
  • Serves 4 to 6
Author Notes

Certain vegetables go a little further than others in creating that “meaty” texture in vegan recipes. Mushrooms, root vegetables, and legumes are all brilliant in this department. But in my opinion, eggplant is extra special, because it contributes meatiness without weighing a dish down the way an overload of beans or lentils sometimes can. It’s versatile, nutritious, and it absorbs flavors easily, so it’s a perfect choice for spicy, bold dishes.

This pasta recipe showcases all of eggplant’s most magical properties. Roasting the eggplant brings out its natural sweetness and tenderness, while combining it with a savory tomato sauce gives it a chance to soak up all of the garlic, oregano, and spicy red pepper flakes, a delight in texture and flavor. The dish is hearty, satisfying, and easy to whip up—even on a weeknight, as you roast the eggplant while you cook the sauce. You'll find yourself making it again and again whenever you have fresh eggplant from the farmers' market. It's as crowd-pleasing as it is vegetarian-friendly, and your guests will love it.

If eggplant’s not for you, you can substitute roasted or sautéed mushrooms and mix them into the sauce in step 3. Lentils would also be a nice addition, as would roasted zucchini in the summer. Feel free to experiment with whatever you have an abundance of and let us know how it goes. Like many pasta dishes, this one welcomes a little creative interpretation, and we can't wait to see what you come up with too. —Gena Hamshaw

Test Kitchen Notes

Featured in: How to Turn 7 Eggplants Into a Week of Meals. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 2 medium eggplants
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 cups chopped plum tomatoes or 1 (14-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup chopped basil, plus more for serving
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano or 1½ teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes, plus more for serving
  • 1 pound linguine
  1. Cut the eggplants crosswise into 1-inch-thick slices. Arrange the slices on a baking sheet, salt well on both sides, and set aside for about 30 minutes.
  2. Heat the oven to 425°F. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of the oil over the eggplant, tossing the slices to coat. Season with salt and black pepper. Arrange in a single layer on the baking sheets. Roast for about 20 minutes, until tender and browned.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan over low heat, warm the remaining 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the onions and the garlic and cook, stirring, for 8 to 10 minutes, until the onions are soft. Add the tomatoes, basil, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 12 minutes, until the sauce has thickened.
  4. When the eggplant is ready, chop into 1-inch pieces and add to the sauce. Continue to simmer gently over very low heat.
  5. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 8 minutes, until al dente. Drain the pasta and gently fold in the sauce. Divide the pasta among bowls. Top with more basil and red pepper flakes.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Dariusz
  • erinrae
  • Rhesa Browne
    Rhesa Browne
  • Dan Holmes
    Dan Holmes
  • patrick

39 Reviews

Dariusz March 6, 2024
Great dish. Simple, but very tasty. Brings back memories of Italian summer by the sea.
Bunnie1 August 12, 2023
This is a go to recipe in our home. Winter time , spring and summer. With the meat eaters I add Italian sausage and keep it true to the recipe for us non meat eaters. Easy and delicious. I will be making this for years to come!
erinrae December 20, 2022
This pasta is really wonderful, but really benefits from a much longer simmer time, and using reserved pasta water to integrate sauce and noodles. I usually let the final sauce simmer for as long as I can, adding water and simmering it off. I like it spicier (with more red pepper flakes, but sometimes have people who don't, so will top with some chili oil on my own. Always a good choice though!
jodyrah April 7, 2022
Easier: Don’t pre salt eggplant, just cut into cubes, toss with olive oil, salt then roast till lightly brown and tender.
KyleKerr May 31, 2021
This was delicious! Thanks for sharing as I had been looking at new ways to cook with eggplant in pastas and I definitely recommend this recipe. I added more chilli flakes as I like mine quite spicy but really enjoyed the blend of flavours.
cookingisfun November 16, 2020
Delicious! Hearty! We actually used Mezzi Rigatoni as our pasta! Can't wait to make again. Thank you for the wonderful recipe!
[email protected] April 13, 2020
I followed the recipe completely with fresh basil and oregano, exactly as required and probably being fresh could have upped the amts a little as you really couldn't taste either. I like my pasta with a bit more sauce, so added more crushed tomatoes than specified. For the vegan diet, I added some long grain black rice to add some extra protein. Also, I grilled the eggplant versus roasting, which I liked better. One review said she peeled the eggplants, but I didn't and am glad as it adds to the color/texture of the dish. This is REALLY tasty!! Thanks for posting it
Linda D. August 13, 2018
Thank you Gena for this marvelous mix of flavors. I'll bump the two teaspoons of pepper to three the next time. I will also peel the eggplant as I found the skin to be slightly bitter. I chose zitti for my pasta and served the pasta and eggplant separately-yum!
Rhesa B. August 23, 2017
Loved this. Just made it and it's a hit. Thanks for sharing
Mary August 16, 2017
Received an eggplant in my CSA and trying to find something new and different I found this recipe. It is a keeper and will use it again. Just the right amount of heat and made a perfect dinner with a green salad. Thank you
Dan H. March 3, 2017
Tried it last night. Got home to no power so had to grill the eggplant outside and fire up the stove the old fashioned way. With a match...
Couldn't find a 14 OZ can of crushed tomato's and wound up using all the 28 OZ can I found but it took it without being too wet. I too cut the pepper in half. My Mexican Wife has a Gringo tongue for spices.
Good recipe! It'll be a regular treat for my pasta loving vegetarian Wife.
patrick December 8, 2016
this was delicious, 2 tsps of fresh potent red pepper flakes might be too much for some, including myself. i was good with 1tsp.
Jennifer O. July 18, 2016
Woah! This is A LOT of heat so I will likely back off on the 2tsp of red pepper flakes to just 1tsp next time. I added some sun dried tomatoes as well to try to balance out the flavors and served it over Spaghetti Squash rather than pasta. Otherwise it's OK.
Edward March 1, 2016
Well, I did something wrong. This was terrible. At Step 3, it does not say wash/ remove the salt from the eggplant slices, which is what i would have normally done. The eggplant never browned in the oven, was soft and the dish was a hypertensive nightmare due to very salty taste.
VF March 2, 2016
I only slightly seasoned mine. They didn't need rinsing off. I've never removed or washed off salt after something came from the oven....
Kaite April 8, 2015
Oh my goodness! This recipe is AMAZING. It was super easy to make. I would add though that I thought the eggplant ended up a little too salty. Next time I will salt the eggplant the first time but not re-salt as stated in the recipe. I also did what another user suggested and added a little bit of herb goat cheese to my bowl. I can see myself throwing this between some Italian bread, melting mozzarella on it, and adding spinach for a sandwich.
Kaite April 8, 2015
Also, my husband added some pine nuts to his bowl. He really enjoyed it.
VF March 15, 2015
I saw this recipe and am going to make it but with zucchini noodles. I was standing in front of the zucchini at the time I was shopping for the recipe.
unpublishable September 23, 2014
Made this just now and it's fantastic. It's essentially Pasta alla Amatriciana with roasted egg plant.
Señora H. August 29, 2014
Made this for a dinner party last night, added a bit of goats cheese to the bottom of the bowls before serving it, as well as some mushrooms I had in the fridge to the sauce. Everyone had seconds. Was deelish.
Bryan M. August 27, 2014
Made this tonight for dinner....I know it's supposed to be a Meatless Monday recipe, but since it's Wednesday, I added a little pancetta and a little bit of anchovy paste.......and a splash of white wine..........VERY delicious! Oregano and basil out of my garden!
Susie August 28, 2014
That's too bad. It'll be great the day people think with their minds and hearts, and not as to what they're "supposed" to do just because someone's declared a day a "meatless" day. Living a vegan lifestyle can be so uplifting -- good for all sentient beings, good for yourself, and good for our earth.

Sorry to sound preachy, but I made the mistake of thinking this was a vegan recipe website. And I'm always in it for the voiceless, including the anchovies and the pigs.
Susan W. August 28, 2014
I followed your lead with the anchovy and pancetta. Great combo and added great zing!
Adrienne January 2, 2015
Susie, why on earth did you think this was a vegan recipe website?
Susie January 2, 2015
Okay, as I had THOUGHT I'd clearly explained, I wrote that "I made the mistake of thinking this was a vegan recipe website."

So that's MY "why on earth" for you.

This page's link showed up on one of the many vegan- and animal rights-related websites I occasionally visit, and I can only assume (please don't blame ME, since I'm not the webmaster of whichever site that was) that, since this recipe IS, in fact, VEGAN, that's why it was shared with many others.

It's really not my fault, but I thought the recipe sounded absolutely delicious just as it was published, so I made a comment which -- obviously -- isn't particularly welcome.

I bet your pardon, Adrienne.
Lucy B. August 28, 2021
You must be hungry! Eat this and you will feel better,
Bunnie1 August 22, 2022
Sounds amazing, thanks for the idea
sevenfaces August 26, 2014
Made it, loved it! Used pappardelle and it was very satisfying.