Make Ahead

Spicy Eggplant Pasta

September 18, 2013
10 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
Author Notes

Certain vegetables go a little further than others in creating “meaty” texture in vegan recipes. Mushrooms, root vegetables, and legumes are all brilliant in this department. 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 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 garlic, oregano, and spicy red pepper flakes. The dish is hearty, satisfying, and easy to whip up–even on a weeknight. It's as crowd pleasing as it is vegetarian friendly.

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. Like many pasta dishes, this one welcomes a little creative interpretation. —Gena Hamshaw

Test Kitchen Notes

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

  • Prep time 30 minutes
  • Cook time 20 minutes
  • Serves 4 to 6
  • 2 medium eggplants
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, plus more as needed
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups chopped plum tomatoes or one 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, or 1 1/2 teaspoons dry oregano
  • 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes, plus extra for finishing
  • 1/4 cup fresh, chopped basil, plus extra for finishing
  • 1 pound linguine pasta
In This Recipe
  1. Cut the eggplants crosswise into 1-inch thick slices. Lay the slices on a baking sheet, salt them well on both sides, and set aside for half an hour or so.
  2. Preheat the oven to 425° F.
  3. Drizzle two tablespoons of olive oil over the eggplant, tossing the slices to coat them. Sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper. Arrange them in a single layer on the baking sheets and roast them until they're tender and browning, about 20 minutes.
  4. While the eggplant roasts, heat remaining tablespoon of the olive oil on low heat in a large saucepan. Add the onions and the minced garlic and sautée them until onions are soft (8 to 10 minutes). Add the tomatoes, oregano, pepper flakes, and basil. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, till the sauce has thickened up (approximately 10 to 12 minutes). When the eggplant is ready, remove it from the oven, chop it into 1-inch pieces, and add it to the sauce. Continue to simmer gently on very low heat.
  5. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain the pasta and gently fold in the sauce. Top the pasta with additional chopped basil and red pepper flakes to taste. Serve.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Rhesa Browne
    Rhesa Browne
  • Dan Holmes
    Dan Holmes
  • patrick
  • Jennifer O'Connor
    Jennifer O'Connor
  • Edward
Gena is a registered dietitian, recipe developer, and food blogger. She's the author of three cookbooks, including Power Plates (2017) and Food52 Vegan (2015). She enjoys cooking vegetables, making bread, and challenging herself with vegan baking projects.

33 Reviews

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.
sevenfaces August 26, 2014
Made it, loved it! Used pappardelle and it was very satisfying.
Tomas T. August 20, 2014
Made it for lunch today, used cayenne pepper instead of flakes, was still delicious!
gerald August 17, 2014
Made this last night. I like how the eggplant is allowed to be the star in this. I used whole wheat thin spaghetti, and drizzled with some extra virgin olive oil for an addition of lusciousness. Yum. Will make again.
Susie August 17, 2014
Oh, man! That sounds so wonderful, Gerald! I can't wait to make this, and many thanks to Gena for sharing it for the rest of us.
Susie August 15, 2014
Gena... Well, unless you use an egg-based pasta, this recipe is VEGAN-friendly If food items are vegetarian, why not go all the way and make them vegan, too?! Easy!
Sherry J. April 22, 2014
I made this last night and it was very homey and comforting. I used a can of crushed tomatoes, and it did make the sauce a bit thick. Maybe I should have added more water or pasta water to thin it out, but it was still delicious. I also used a brown rice pasta in lieu of linguine, which was a great substitute.