Caramelized Onion, Tomato, and Eggplant Pasta
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I don’t know about you, but I’m up to my eyeballs in eggplants here. My CSA delivery last week could have fed a small village, and I’m still feeling a little overwhelmed. Overwhelmed in a good way though. I mean, I’ve been eating my way though a very delicious eggplant chapter in Chez Panisse Vegetables, so far delighting in eggplant gratin with tomato and onion, and roasted eggplant and tomato pizza. I know, it’s been rough.
But this pasta. Oooooh, this pasta. This pasta recipe unexpectedly has eclipsed its chapter companions, its deliciousness attributed to perfectly ripe eggplant, the freshest tomato sauce, sweet basil, caramelized onions, and above all to a most unsuspecting ingredient: sherry vinegar. I don’t know how just a splash of anything could so transform a dish, giving it a depth of flavor that subtly persists through layers of tomatoes and eggplant and onions, but somehow the sherry vinegar has.
There’s something, too, about the way the roasted eggplant melds with the caramelized onions and the tomato sauce that makes cheese totally unnecessary. No cheese on pasta, you ask? Hogwash, you shout! I mean it. This roasted eggplant tomato sauce spiced with crushed red pepper flakes and freshened with basil was enough for me. I even had some homemade ricotta in the fridge. I even had a bowl of freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano sitting inches from my plate throughout dinner. I had no trouble refraining.
While I know a bowl of hot pasta perhaps isn’t crossing your mind very often in late summer, eggplants are reaching their peak right about now, and they are oh so good. Give this recipe a go. It’s a keeper for sure.
Finally, if you like summer pastas, you will love this orecchiette with Quick Sautéed Cherry Tomato Sauce.Print
Caramelized Onion, Tomato, and Eggplant Pasta
- Total Time: 50 minutes
- Yield: 4
Adapted from Chez Panisse Vegetables
- 1 to 2 globe eggplants, diced to yield 4 to 6 cups
- olive oil
- kosher salt
- 1 onion, thinly sliced to yield about 2 cups
- 3/4 lb. pasta such as Gemelli or whatever you like best
- 2 cloves garlic, minced or sliced
- red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons sherry (or other) vinegar
- 2 cups tomato sauce (I like this tomato-basil sauce or Marcella Hazan’s Tomato Sauce)
- handful fresh basil
- ricotta salata cheese or Parmigiano Reggiano
- freshly cracked black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Cut the eggplants into cubes about 3/4-inch square, toss them with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a big pinch of salt. Spread them out in a single layer on a sheet pan (parchment-lined, if you wish, for easy cleanup). Roast in the oven for 25 minutes or until the eggplant is light brown and tender.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a tablespoon of kosher salt. Cook the pasta al dente.
- Meanwhile, heat a large sauté pan with 2 tablespoons olive oil and the onions over medium heat. Season with salt and sauté over medium to medium-low heat until the onions are just caramelized, 20 minutes to 25 minutes. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper flakes, and cook for 30 seconds; then deglaze with the sherry vinegar. Add the tomato sauce and eggplant. Heat the sauce to simmering. Drain the pasta, add it to the tomato sauce pan, and toss gently. Taste. Adjust with salt and pepper to taste.
- To finish, add the basil and stir to combine. Serve the pasta with shaved cheese over the top and more pepper if you wish, too.
- Prep Time: 25 minutes
- Cook Time: 25 minutes
- Category: Pasta
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Italian
Keywords: pasta, eggplant, tomato, caramelized, onions, summer, vinegar, sherry
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
54 Comments on “Caramelized Onion, Tomato, and Eggplant Pasta”
A beautiful pasta dish! Exactly the kind of recipe I make during the summer. Yummy.
Gemelli…twins. It’s such a great pasta to use. The sauce really sticks in those grooves. Delicious.
I recently found Chez Panisse Vegetables on clearance with a 80% discount at a small museum bookstore. It was the last copy, and the jacket was in perfect condition. I was so giddy I took a photo and tweeted it! I am just starting to try the recipes. Can ‘t wait to try them all. Your eggplant looks divine, I will be making that soon!
I really needed this recipe earlier this month when I was drowning in eggplants from my CSA. I had the hardest time finding good recipes for eggplant, but this one sounds perfect! I haven’t gotten eggplant in my CSA box the past few weeks, I but I’m definitely bookmarking this recipe for next time.
Ali, I am going to buy an eggplant and sherry vinegar next time I go shopping! I love pasta dishes! You always make me hungry with your recipes :))
We made this for dinner tonight, and I must say it is my new favorite way to enjoy eggplant ..!! I, too, have roasted e. plant with salt and did not care for it … this was fabulous. I did add about 3/4 a pint of grape tomatoes to the caramelizing onions, because we had them on hand … YUM! It was great, thank you!!
That makes me so happy! I am loving this recipe at the moment as well… hoping for another month of really yummy eggplants.
O.M.G. this was amazing! My meat-obsessed husband rolled his eyes when he heard we were having meatless pasta sauce. Again. But, by the end of his second bowl he was telling me that we need to plant more (more!) Eggplant next year (he’s unaware of the five we have in the fridge). Anyway, despite having fresh tomatoes on hand, I was too lazy to make sauce, so I threw in a can of fire-roasted tomatoes with a dallop of my pesto and a dallop of tomato paste. Otherwise I followed the recipe and resisted the urge to add extras, as I’m prone to do. So much flavor and texture! We ate ALL of it.
Betsie — so happy to hear this! It’s one of my favorites as well, especially this time of year. Your additions of pesto and fire-roasted tomatoes sound delicious!
This recipe is so delicious! I have made it several times (using your modifications) for friends and family and it is a hit each time.
I featured it this week on my new meal planning blog with a link back to this page. Thank you!
This sounds really good, I have so far found only one eggplant casserole recipe that the whole family likes. Can’t wait to try this one.
Sherryl — this is one of my faves! I hope you like it, too!
I made this a few days ago and loved how beautifully it showed off the aubergine.
I would say that the ricotta insalata is a necessary element–I didn’t use any on this occasion but felt that its mild creamy-ness would add a welcome dimension. I, too, however, refrained from parmesan–and was glad that I did. I find parmesan a great way to prop up a pasta dish if the flavours are lacking, but sometimes it can just dominate. Here, I wanted to taste the aubergine, the caramelised onions, the basil.
Last, but not least: Alexandra, you are spot on when you say that the sherry vinegar transforms the dish!
Thank you for another wonderful recipe–I have your lentil soup simmering away on the stove and (lemon) thyme bread rolls rising as I type. It may be Spring over here in the UK, but the weather is dreadul so a warming bowl of lentil soup seems perfectly acceptable–even in May.
Sounds great, but I think I will add garlic to the sauce. I’m Sicilian and always put garlic and onions in my pasta sauces.
Yum! Garlic sounds amazing.
The recipe HAS garlic in it, btw. Myself, I would double the amount, Trying this tmw.
You’re right, haha. Hope you liked this! It’s one of my favorites.
I forgot to buy sherry vinegar..can I leave it out or substitute it?
Use any other vinegar — balsamic, apple cider, white wine, whatever you’ve got on hand. Some sort of vinegar is essential for adding that nice bite. Hope this turns out well for you!
You can never have too many aubergines! Love the stuff!
Tried it at home, it was AWSOME 🙂
Wonderful to hear this, Chase!
I have made this recipe countless times.
It’s the only way (so far) that I enjoy eggplant.
Comes together fast and holds up well in the fridge for a few days.
I also tried salting the eggplant one time when I roasted it and that was the ONLY time. It seems better roasted with just oil, I’ve tried olive oil, avocado and my favorite- coconut oil and they’ve all been wonderful!!
Thank you for this recipe
Wonderful to hear this! Great to know about the salting or that not salting is better. Thanks for writing in!
Thank you so much for this recipe! I had about 12 small eggplants from our CSA and remembered seeing this recipe. I added sausage to the one I made last night and it was so so good! I will definitely make this again soon.
Oh, that sounds so good! So happy you liked this, Kathleen.
Made this tonight with my garden tomatoes put through a food mill, local eggplant and basil from the garden. Sooooooo good! Made a couple of changes just due to stuff on hand. Used Marsala wine instead of vinegar, used 1/4 cup heavy cream instead of ricotta. I did end up putting some shredded parmigiana and thought it enhanced it. Wasn’t sure if I should skin the eggplant and I did in the end. The family devoured it!
So happy to hear this, Lori! It’s one of my favorites as well.
What an excellent eggplant recipe! I made this with my boyfriend for a romantic night in, paired with a tossed salad, crusty garlic bread, homemade mango raspberry ice cream, and a nice Malbec. It turned out amazing! The sherry vinegar is really the key to this delicious dish. Thanks for the recipe! And I agree, gemelli pasta is the way to go!
Wonderful to hear this, Maggie!
Good two-pot meal. Add bread and you’ve got a good, cheap meal.
Really delicious. The eggplant and onions melt into the pasta, really terrific recipe.
So happy to hear this, Daphne! I love this one, too.
Absolutely delicious and easy to make. Right after we finished dinner, my daughter asked me if I could make this again tomorrow and the day after and the day after! ❤️❤️❤️
Oh, wonderful! So happy to hear this. It’s always a good sign when the children approve 🙂
If you like mushy eggplant then sure, use this recipe. Otherwise, stray away. Not good.
I have made this 4 times now thanks to my prolific eggplant plants. It is AMAZING and my definite ‘go to’ recipe for eggplant (the involtino recipe is a close second). So easy! Used Marcella’s tomato sauce recipe – if you make it ahead of time this dish comes together in no time.
There are some beautiful eggplants in the store now and I’m so glad I found this recipe so I could use them. The flavors in this recipe are amazing and I will definitely make this again. Plus it is simple and easy. Next time I will make Marcella Hazen’s tomato sauce. I substituted rotini pasta and white wine vinegar.
Nice!! I love this one, Laura. SO good.
Made this tonight, loved it! Will definitely be making again. I kept the sauce and pasta separate for leftovers just in case the pasta eats up the sauce?
Also, try adding mini mozzarella balls at the end when you toss together, they’ll get melty and mix right in.
ooooh yum!! Sounds so good!! I definitely will.
I made this last night and it was delicious!! I loved the addition of the roasted eggplant, and the creamy ricotta really took it over the edge!
A quick, easy, and delicious weeknight dinner! Highly recommend 🙂
This- with your tomato basil sauce- was amazing!!! Thank you!
Wonderful to hear this, Beth! Can’t wait to try. Thanks for writing 🙂
This is amazing and tastes as good as something I’d find in an Italian restaurant. You never disappoint and make such simple, yet delicious, dishes. Thank you for all you do!
So nice to hear this, Jodi 🙂 🙂 🙂 Thanks so much for writing.
Fantastic. Nearly as good as Ali’s tomato sauce.
Great to hear Norm 🙂 🙂 🙂