This classic Sicilian sauce has been hitting the right note since 1831, the year it was named for Bellini’s opera. Music to your palate, the sweet roasted eggplant is combined with a spicy tomato sauce and tangy ricotta salata, giving rise to a full-bodied aria. —bitememore
large eggplant (about 1 lb), sliced into 1/4-inch thick rounds
freshly ground black pepper
small red onion, chopped
large garlic cloves, minced
crushed red pepper flakes
plum tomatoes, cored and cut into 1-inch chunks
Preheat oven to 450°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat with non-stick cooking spray.
Place eggplant slices in a single layer on prepared baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 10 minutes, turn the slices over and bake an additional 10 minutes, until soft and golden. Once cool enough to handle, cut into 1-inch pieces. Set aside.
For the sauce, in a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently until softened, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and crushed red pepper flakes, continuously stirring for 1 minute, until garlic becomes fragrant. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 3 minutes. Add tomatoes and continue to simmer on low for 15 minutes, until the tomatoes have softened. Add eggplant pieces, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Stir well to combine. Remove from heat and add fresh basil and ricotta salata.
For the pasta, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil over high heat. Add pasta and cook until tender. Drain well and return to pot. Toss hot pasta with sauce and serve immediately.