Sicilian Eggplant and Tomato Sauce

Discover the rich and tangy flavors of Sicily with this traditional recipe

Indulge your taste buds with the scrumptious Sicilian eggplant and tomato sauce that is bound to leave you wanting more. This recipe comes packed with a blend of flavors that are sure to amaze your senses. The dish features a combination of fresh and roasted eggplant and tomatoes, each adding its own unique essence to the mix. We have carefully selected different types of tomatoes to create a medley of flavors that combine to create a symphony of tastes. With each bite, you’ll experience the richness and complexity of this dish which is sure to leave a lasting impression on your palate.

This dinner dish is an absolute delight when shared with a group of friends. With the pan-roasting method, it takes some time to cook but doesn’t require constant attention, making it ideal to cook as a group. Everyone can share the prep work while sipping on some wine, sharing stories, and enjoying each other’s company. The aroma of the dish will fill the kitchen, teasing everyone’s senses and causing mouths to water in anticipation. Once the dish is ready, each person can take part in the final steps of combining and finishing the dish, making it a shared experience that everyone can be a part of. Finally, everyone can sit down to savor the flavors and enjoy each other’s company, making it a meal that will be remembered for a long time. I am confident that this dish will be a crowd-pleaser and will create a memorable dining experience for everyone involved.

Here’s what you could grow in your garden for this recipe –

Using freshly picked, ripe tomatoes of two or more different varieties adds a complex and vibrant flavor to this dish. The combination of the different types of tomatoes creates a harmonious balance of sweetness and acidity that is sure to tantalize your taste buds.

This freshly harvested Rosa Bianca eggplant has its cap removed. Due to its freshness, there is no need to soak it in salted water as it won’t have any bitter taste. The eggplant has been sliced and is ready to be used.

To unlock the full potential of the eggplant’s flavor, it is crucial to slowly pan-roast cubed eggplant on medium-low heat. As the eggplant sizzles in the pan, it undergoes a transformation, developing a rich, smoky taste that will make your taste buds dance with delight. The process of pan roasting requires patience and attention, but the end result is well worth the effort. So take your time and enjoy the mouthwatering aroma as the eggplant slowly roasts to perfection.

Two separate pans for roasting speed up the cooking process. Finely chopped onions are sautéeing in the front pan, while the eggplant is slowly pan-roasting in the back until it is a deep, rich color. About midway through the roasting, start heating a large pot of water on the stove to cook the pasta. If you take a closer look at the eggplant, you will notice how it has transformed into a tender, flavorful dish with a slightly crispy exterior due to the pan-roasting technique.

To achieve a caramelized and pan-roasted flavor, heat some oil in a pan over medium heat. Once heated, place the tomatoes cut-side down in the pan and let them cook until they turn golden brown. This usually takes around 5-7 minutes.

As the tomatoes cook, they gradually lose their firmness and begin to dissolve into the simmering sauce, releasing their sweet aroma and rich flavor. You can gradually add the remaining tomatoes as the first batch softens, allowing each to contribute its unique blend of taste and texture to the sauce. The addition of the yellow tomatoes introduces a milder, softer hue and a more nuanced flavor profile that beautifully complements the other ingredients, creating a light yet luxuriant sauce that is lively yet rich on the tongue.

After roasting on medium heat for approximately 10 minutes, the sauce has transformed into a rich and luscious mixture with a deep, smoky aroma. Its color has deepened, and the texture has thickened, making it the perfect partner to the roasted eggplant.

After blending the sauce, you can transfer it back into the pan to give it a more consistent texture. The blender will effectively puree the skins, eliminating any annoying bits and resulting in a smoother and more enjoyable sauce.

Once all the ingredients are combined and warmed, add a generous amount of fresh basil to enhance the flavor profile. Slip an additional garlic clove into the mix to give it an extra kick.

The dish is finished and ready to enjoy. This version excludes Ricotta cheese to showcase a less cheesy dish.

Sicilian Eggplant and Tomato Sauce
Freshly picked eggplant is sweet and avoids the common bitterness of store-bought ones. Adding fresh picked, pan-roasted tomatoes makes the flavors really pop!
Author: Stephen
  • 1 - 1 1/2 lbs fresh eggplant
  • 1/2 cup onion sliced thin or chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped garlic
  • 2 cups fresh ripe Italian tomatoes or other plum tomatoes cut in half
  • 8 - 10 fresh basil leaves
  • Freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons freshly grated Romano cheese
  • 3 tablespoons fresh Ricotta cheese
  • 1 - 1 1/2 lbs pasta
  1. Cut off the spiky green cap on the eggplant, then peel the skin with a vegetable peeler. Cut into cubes, about 1 1/2 inches long.
  2. Add enough olive oil to generously coat the bottom of a heavy frying pan (preferably cast iron), heat until oil is just becoming hot, then add as much eggplant as will fit and still allow turning of the cubes. Start the well salted pasta water to heating on high.
  3. Turn eggplant every few minutes, adding olive oil as needed to keep from sticking to bottom of pan. You may need to add a little oil several times as you initially turn the cubes. While eggplant is cooking, chop the onion and garlic.
  4. Cook eggplant, turning every few minutes, until the cubes feel tender when poked with a fork.
  5. Transfer into a bowl and set in a warm area until needed.
  6. Reduce heat to medium-low and add onion, stirring frequently to coat with the olive oil. After the onion starts to soften and brown slightly, add garlic. You can cut the tomatoes in half while the onion and garlic is cooking.
  7. Once garlic is very fragrant and onion is softened and browned, transfer to the eggplant bowl and set aside.
  8. Add tomato halves, cut side down and increase heat to medium. You don't want the tomatoes to sizzle, but to melt into the pan in about 10 minutes as they cook. Fill the pan and add extra tomatoes as they cook down.
  9. Start cooking the pasta after adding the tomatoes to the pan. It should be done right when the sauce is finished.
  10. Test the doneness of the tomatoes by prodding them with a spatula. As they cook, they will soften and melt into the sauce that starts forming from the other tomatoes. When all of the tomatoes are soft and have no firms spots left the sauce is ready to blend.
  11. Transfer the tomato sauce to a blender and puree the skins into the sauce until they can't be seen. Return the sauce to the pan and decrease the heat to low or medium-low.
  12. Add the reserved eggplant, onion and garlic to the tomato sauce. If the sauce seems a little soupy or watery at this point, give the eggplant about 5 minutes to absorb the liquid.
  13. Gently heat the sauce in the pan on low until it is warmed through, then add the basil leaves, ricotta and grated Romano cheese. Mix well.
  14. Serve immediately over hot pasta.
Recipe Notes

This is a very engaging sauce - the ripe flavors shine through the roasted overtones and the eggplant does not get lost in the tomatoes richness. There are lots of flavors and tastes going on, which will pleasantly surprise many diners! Most people will want to go back for a second serving, so be prepared.