Cheesy Eggplant and Rigatoni Bake Recipe (2024)

By Sue Li

Cheesy Eggplant and Rigatoni Bake Recipe (1)

Total Time
1 hour 15 minutes
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Put on your cozy pants and get comfortable with a giant bowl of this cheesy, eggplant-studded pasta. Don’t be shy about adding plenty of reserved pasta cooking water to the sauce; it's the magical ingredient that creates a silky sauce and keeps the pasta moist while baking. A little grated ricotta salata to finish adds a slight tangy bite that rounds everything out — but, truthfully, more Parmesan or any firm, salted cheese will do.

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Yield:8 servings

  • 1pound rigatoni
  • 6tablespoons olive oil
  • 2medium eggplants (about 1½ pounds total), cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1small yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 4garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • 1(28-ounce) can whole tomatoes, juices reserved
  • 1cup lightly packed grated Parmesan (about 2 ounces)
  • 4cups grated fresh mozzarella (about 1 pound)
  • 1cup fresh basil leaves, torn, plus additional for serving
  • Grated ricotta salata, for serving

Ingredient Substitution Guide

Nutritional analysis per serving (8 servings)

580 calories; 27 grams fat; 12 grams saturated fat; 0 grams trans fat; 12 grams monounsaturated fat; 2 grams polyunsaturated fat; 59 grams carbohydrates; 8 grams dietary fiber; 9 grams sugars; 26 grams protein; 923 milligrams sodium

Note: The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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Cheesy Eggplant and Rigatoni Bake Recipe (2)


  1. Step


    Heat oven to 375 degrees. Cook rigatoni according to package instructions but keep it slightly more al dente. Reserve 1½ cups pasta cooking water, then drain and rinse pasta under cold water, and transfer to a large bowl while you cook the eggplant.

  2. Step


    Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large, oven-proof skillet over medium. Add half the eggplant, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until golden brown on all sides, 9 to 10 minutes. Transfer to the bowl with the rigatoni. Repeat with 2 tablespoons olive oil and remaining eggplant and transfer to the bowl.

  3. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in the skillet over medium. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in red-pepper flakes and season with salt and pepper. Add tomatoes and their juices, crushing the tomatoes with your hands as you add them. Cook until the tomatoes are very soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the reserved pasta cooking water, adding up to 1½ cups as needed to create a silky sauce.

  4. Step


    If the skillet is large enough, add the rigatoni and eggplant mixture, Parmesan, 1 cup mozzarella and 1 cup basil and toss to coat. Otherwise, add the tomato sauce, Parmesan, 1 cup mozzarella and 1 cup basil to the large bowl with the rigatoni and eggplant, toss to coat and then return to the skillet or transfer to a greased baking dish.

  5. Step


    Top with remaining 3 cups mozzarella and bake until the sauce is bubbling on the sides and the cheese is melted, about 25 minutes. Top with grated ricotta salata and torn fresh basil to serve.



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Cooking Notes


Dear NYT--for those of us who pay for the cooking section and live outside of the US, can you please consider providing metric/gram amounts for the new recipes that you add on to the site? It's really frustrating to have to convert everything before going to buy things--e.g. 28 oz (=793g). Like when you say 1 stick of butter--the sticks of butter sold everywhere else in the world are different from American sizes. A "stick" over here is 250g. Please consider adding metric amounts. Thanks.


I recommend salting the eggplant and blotting off extra moisture prior to cooking it. Cook pasta until it still has a good bite. Don’t rinse the pasta. Simmer the sauce for about 20 minutes to bring extra flavor. Add extra pasta water if needed to get sauce to the consistency you desire. Use about a third of the recommended cheese.


So... The picture shows the pasta being baked in what looks like a cast iron pan. I thought you were not supposed to cook tomatoes in this kind of reactive surface. Any thoughts please?

Rachel Feldman

Roast eggplant while making sauce. Use 1/3 to 1/2 the mozzarella. Add more seasoning. Basil, oregano.


Yes, I too find when I don't follow the cooking instructions or use the ingredients listed the outcome can be disappointing. It's kind of like back when I was in school. When I took a test and wrote my answer down but was not answering the question asked, shockingly my teacher would mark it wrong.


Roasting eggplant while making tomato sauce would expedite things.


I do this now for virtually every eggplant recipe that calls for frying a la Martha Rose Shulman--less oil, less mess, less time, and healthier, and no sacrifice in flavor, particularly when you use farm-fresh eggplant. I haven't fried eggplant in years.


Halved the recipe. Roasted the eggplant instead of frying, per some other commenters (tossed with olive oil, salt & pepper, at 450 for 20 mins). Had a bit too much pasta for the amount of sauce so drizzled in some extra pasta water before baking. Used pecorino romano for the garnish. Delicious.


I can not thank you enough Sue for such a great tip in using the starchy water of the cooked pasta into this sauce. I could not believe how silky and smooth the sauce turned out and I used the whole 1 and half cups. I learned a great secret that yields hearty sauces with depth and texture. Mine turned out spectacular. For the users that felt that the pasta cooking water made the sauce watery, please allow the sauce to simmer on low heat for a while to get the right consistency.


You'll find all sorts of opinions. A well-seasoned cast iron pan can handle limited exposure to tomatoes. It's only heated for 25 minutes, has other ingredients to buffer the effect so it's not like you're making sauce. My pans are seasoned to the point that I break all the 'rules' with no adverse taste or damage to the pan. YMMVGiven the scale of the items in the photo, I'm not sure that whole recipe is in that skillet.


This was delicious! I followed the advice of some other commenters by cooking the pasta water with the sauce for a few minutes till it was silky - turned out very moist, like a regular stovetop tomato pasta. I also omitted the mozzarella in the sauce and just added it on the top before baking. If you wanted to skip the mozzarella altogether, I don't think you'd be missing out on too much. I cooked the pasta about 3 mins short, turned out perfectly al dente after baking.


My understanding has always been if your iron cookware is very well seasoned you can cook with acid in the ingredients. I have no problems with my old, well seasoned pans and tomatoes.

Hannah Lee

Deglaze your eggplant with a bit of sherry or wine. Up the onion a bit and finely dice it instead of julienne. Simmer the sauce for about half an hour.Use three cups of mozzarella instead of four, with two mixed in and one on top. Use a large casserole. I filled it halfway with the mixture, put down a little layer of fresh ricotta and then put in the rest of the pasta mix. Bake it on 400 degrees instead of 375. I ended up baking it for about 35 minutes to get some chewy cheese edges.


I only put a handful of mozarella on top, as opposed to the whole 3 cups, and it came out very well. I cooked it in a greased baking dish, since my skillet was too small. A great recipe for picky kids!

Karen Nelson

This was delicious, but I, too, think that you could use 1/3 the mozzarella and it would be a bit better. We were a bit overwhelmed with the cheese. But, the sauce was delicious and would be good even as a pasta asciutto.


Delicious! We loved the eggplants taste and texture, which paired beautifully with the tomatoes and garlic. I added cooked sweet Italian sausage to the mix which accompanied everything perfectly, while making the meal that much hardier.I'll definitely make this one again and again.

Ali B.

Delicious. If making again I would 1/2 the cheese, double the eggplant, and fry the eggplant longer as several pieces were underdone using the suggested cooking times.


Followed the recipe as written and found it a bit underwhelming. Next time I will add less pasta water (there was liquid at the bottom of the pan at the end of baking) and up the red flakes for more a kick.

Susannah Allanic

Wow! The flavors were not disappointing but still Wow. I am an American living in France so it is easy for me to calculate the measures. And it is quite tasty but ... Not everyone has a Tour de France Cycling Team to feed. My Colcotte could barely contain it. There was just no way I was going to trust my baking sheet to contain it. I did give it 5* because it is very good. I am sure it would have been an inexpensive way to feed my mid-teen son and his buddies back in the 80's.


Used pacheri, it was fantastic. I would put a little more oil in baking dish to get heat cooked down oil flavor.I also used a mix of japanese eggplant and regular eggplant


For all the comments that this was watery, or under seasoned, you’d be better served with aged mozzarella, which has most of the water from fresh mozzarella dried out. It’s better for melty applications as whe it melts it does not dump water into your final product


Turned out kind of meh. If I made it again, I would be careful to season every component well because the end result really wanted salt, and use a stick blender to smooth out the tomato sauce. The amount of mozzarella was a bit much but that’s a personal call!

Jenny J

I added kalamata olives for additional flavor.


If I try this again I'll cut the pasta portion by half.


I loved this recipe! I prefer fresh tomatoes, at least in summer, and reduced the mozzarella a bit, just a bit of parmesan on top and no ricotta. And I for the first time in my life discovered a white eggplant, which somehow seemed a bit creamier. This is true comfort food! Very easy , relatively quick and no fuss!


Don’t make again! Not good!


I found this to be severely missing a sausage or pancetta element, or other savory element (mushrooms perhaps?) I also made it in a dutch oven, which was easier to manage than a cast iron skillet. I did add some red wine to the sauce which I recommend!

Doug Zacker

This is a great recipe but next time I am not going to add the 1 cup of fresh mozzarella before tossing. It resulted in just a glob of mozz keeping everything from distributing evenly.


Like others I baked the eggplant in the oven while making the pasta and sauce and used much less cheese than the recipe calls for, twice as much garlic and red pepper flakes. Next time, I won't mix any of the cheese in with the hot pasta, eggplant and sauce, that became gloppy and hard to mix, I'd just put some cheese on top. I would also use a bit less pasta and additional vegetables.


Fantastic. I prepared the whole dish in the morning and assembled it in a covered baking dish. At dinner time, just put it in the oven to cook.

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Cheesy Eggplant and Rigatoni Bake Recipe (2024)
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