December 6, 2015
1Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat for the pasta. Preheat oven to 450°F for later use.
2Heat a 2 count of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
3Place the sausages in the skillet and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Sausages should be browned on the outside but still rare on the inside. Once browned, chop the sausages into big, bite-size pieces. Place sausages into a 9 by 13 inch baking dish and set aside.
4Turn heat on skillet down to medium and add a generous ⅓ cup of oil to the skillet.
5Once oil is hot, add as many eggplant pieces as you can comfortably fit in a single layer and sprinkle well with Kosher Salt.
6Cook eggplant for 7 to 8 minutes turning continuously, until the eggplant is browned; crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. Repeat cooking eggplant until used in entirety.
7After eggplant is cooked, with a spatula place eggplant into the baking dish with the sausage and set aside.
8Add another 2 count of oil to the skillet at medium heat. Place onion and garlic into skillet and cook for 3 to 4 minutes until mixture is translucent. Set aside.
9While onion and garlic mixture is cooking, dump the entire can of tomatoes and its juices into a medium size bowl and crush the tomatoes with your hands to break them up. Then, add tomatoes to the skillet along with the basil and cook it down until the mixture is pulpy and relatively thick. This will take about 15 minutes.
10By this time your pasta water will be boiling. Add the rigatoni and cook the pasta for 6 to 7 minutes. The pasta should be slightly firm as it will cook further in the oven. Ladle out ½ cup of the pasta cooking water and reserve; then drain the rigatoni.
11Now, add the tomato sauce, rigatoni, and the reserved pasta water to the baking dish. Use half of the shredded mozzarella and sprinkle over the mixture. Season with salt and pepper, and gently mix with a spatula. Finally, dust on the Parmigiano- Regianno cheese and drizzle light oil over top.
12Place into the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and spread the remaining mozzarella in an even layer over the top and continue to bake for another 10 minutes until golden brown and bubbly. Remove from oven and let dish cool slightly.