Red Lentil Penne with Eggplant Caponata

The Sicilian version of classic ratatouille infuses sweet, sour and spicy elements into a flavorful sauce.

3 pounds Barilla Red Lentil Penne
3/4 cups Extra virgin olive oil
3 cups chopped onions
3 quarts chopped eggplant
1-1/2 cups tomato paste
1/3 cup sugar
6 cloves garlic, minced
1-1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1-1/2 cup raisins, (soaked in water 30 min., drained)
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
3/4 cup loosely packed mint leaves
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts

1. Bring salted water to a boil in steam-jacketed kettle or large stockpot on stove top. Cook pasta as directed on package; drain.

2. Meanwhile, heat 1/4 cup oil in large rondeaux on medium heat. Add onions; cook 2-4 min. until crisp-tender. Drain excess liquid from eggplant; add ΒΌ cup oil and eggplant to pan. Increase heat to medium-high; cook 3-5 min. until golden brown, stirring frequently. Add tomato paste; cook 1-2 min. until combined. Add enough water to barely cover eggplant mixture; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; stir in sugar and simmer 20 min. or until slightly thickened.

3. Heat remaining oil in medium skillet on medium heat. Add garlic, red pepper and raisins; cook 2-3 min. until garlic is golden brown. Stir into eggplant mixture in pot; season to taste with salt and pepper. Add pasta; toss to coat.

4. Garnish with mint and pine nuts before serving.

Chef Notes: Keep pasta and sauce separate to serve this mixture as a topper for crostini.