Bucatini in Chunky Eggplant Sauce

Serves 4 to 6 (makes about 1 2/3 cups sauce, enough for 1 pound of pasta).

Note: For a dairy-free option, substitute freshly toasted breadcrumbs — tossed with a little oil and baked at 400 degrees until golden brown — for the cheese. Bucatini is available in many supermarkets and any Italian market. To peel the tomatoes, use a sharp knife to score a large X on the bottom of each one. Drop into a bowl of just-boiled water and let sit for a few minutes, until you see the peel curling back from the edges of the X. Drain and let cool, then peel and discard the loosened skin. The sauce can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Adapted from a recipe in “Rustico,” by Micol Negrin.

• 1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil

• 2 garlic cloves, chopped

• 1 (12-oz.) eggplant (unpeeled), cut into 1/4-in.- by 1/4-in.- by 3-in. strips

• 2 tbsp. plus 1/2 tsp. salt, or more as needed, divided

• 1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, or more as needed

• 1 lb. ripe tomatoes, peeled and diced (see Note)

• 1 tsp. minced fresh oregano, or more as needed

• 12 basil leaves, torn

• 1 lb. dried bucatini (or substitute penne rigate, rigatoni or orecchiette pasta)

• 1/2 c. freshly grated pecorino Romano cheese, for serving

Directions

Heat the oil in a wide, deep-sided sauté pan over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, then add the eggplant, 1/2 teaspoon salt and the pepper. Partially cover and cook for 25 minutes, stirring often, or until soft, allowing the liquid from the lid to drip into the eggplant if it seems dry.

Use a fork to crush the eggplant in the pan to a chunky consistency, then add the tomatoes and 1 teaspoon oregano. Increase the heat to medium; cook uncovered for 10 to 20 minutes, until the sauce is thick (the cooking time will depend on how juicy your tomatoes are). Stir in the basil and keep the sauce warm.

Meanwhile, bring 5 quarts of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the bucatini and the remaining 2 tablespoons salt. Cook according to the package directions (al dente), about 8 minutes. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.

Add the drained pasta to the sauce in the pan, and add just enough of the reserved pasta cooking water to create a sauce that coats the bucatini. Taste, and add more salt and/or pepper and oregano, as needed.

Serve hot, dusted with the cheese.

Nutrition information per each of 6 servings:

Calories 410 Fat 13 g Sodium 690 mg

Carbohydrates 62 g Saturated fat 3 g Total sugars 5 g

Protein 13 g Cholesterol 5 mg Dietary fiber 5 g