- 2 lbs sweet Italian sausage, casing removed
- 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes (we use Cento or 28-ounces prepared Basic Tomato Sauce )
- 2 medium eggplants, cubed
- coarse salt to sprinkle over cubed eggplant to drain excess water
- 1 large fennel bulb, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced (we use Dorot frozen crushed cubes)
- 1 large red onion, diced
- 4 ounces pancetta, diced
- 1 Tablespoon EVOO
- 1 lb rigatoni pasta (we use Barilla)
- 1/2 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, grated (we use Cello from Costco)
- 1 cup whole milk ricotta (we use Galbani Classic)
- ground black pepper to taste
- pinch of pink Himalayan salt
- 2 pinches of Italian seasoning (we use Morton & Bassett)
- fresh basil leaves for garnish
- Add cubed eggplant to a colander along with a generous amount of course salt & drain for 30 minutes.
- Heat EVOO in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat.
- Add pancetta and cook 4-5 minutes until browned & crispy, stirring occasionally. Add sausage to skillet & cook 7-8 minutes until golden brown. Remove the sausage & pancetta with a slotted spoon. Set aside in large bowl.
- Set aside 3 Tablespoons of the oil & fat from the skillet and discard the rest.
- Add fennel & onions to skillet along with a pinch of salt & pepper to taste. Cook for 5 minutes over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.
- Add eggplant to fennel & onions and cook an additional 5 minutes.
- Add the sausage & pancetta mixture back to the skillet.
- Add crushed tomatoes, garlic, and Italian seasoning. Simmer for 40 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally.
- While mixture is simmering, cook pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water then drain pasta in a colander.
- Add the pasta and the 1/2 cup pasta water to the skillet then cook 1 additional minute to incorporate. Stir in the 1/2 cup Pecorino Romano cheese.
- Add the pasta to a large serving bowl and top with spoonfuls of ricotta cheese and basil leaves.
This is a fabulous dish for a gathering of good friends accompanied by a simple salad, crusty Italian bread and a glass of dry red wine.