Thick Spaghetti with Eggplant, Cherry Tomatoes and Ricotta Salata Sauce

You won’t miss the meat here with a hearty eggplant sauce and toasty blistered tomatoes. Salty ricotta salata is the perfect garnish.

3 pounds Barilla Thick Spaghetti
As needed sea salt
1 1/2 pounds diced yellow onion
30 ounces halved cherry tomatoes
As needed freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 pounds diced eggplant
2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
24 leaves fresh basil
6 ounces thinly shaved ricotta salata cheese
  1. Cook the Barilla pasta for half the time indicated on the package. Drain pasta and drizzle with some olive oil to prevent from sticking. Place pasta flat on sheet trays or hotel pans and cool in a blast chiller. Alternatively, cool it down in a walk-in fridge. Store in zip lock bags or sealed plastic container; refrigerate and use within several hours.
  2. Season the eggplant with sea salt. Transfer to colanders or drip pans and place weights on top. Allow to drain for 1 hour. Rinse excess salt from the eggplant. Sweat the onions and pepper flakes in the oil until translucent.
  3. Toss the eggplant with the flour and add to the onions. Cook until falling apart. Remove from the heat. Season with salt and pepper. You can cook to this point and reheat later for service.

For each serving, to order:

  1. Blister 1 ¼ ounces tomatoes in a little extra-virgin olive oil over high heat for 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to low, add ½ cup eggplant sauce, and heat until warm.
  2. Reheat 1 cup of spaghetti in boiling salted water for 40 to 60 seconds. Drain and add it to the sauce. Add up to ¼ cup pasta water to reach the desired sauce consistency. Finish the pasta with ¾ ounce cheese and a drizzle of oil. Garnish with 1 basil leaf, torn into pieces.