All you need is a glass of chilled white wine and a bowl of this pasta to transport yourself to Italy on a weeknight. This dish might look simple but it’s surprisingly decadent, thanks to luscious burrata cheese, which is fresh mozzarella filled with cream. (You can also substitute fresh mozzarella and a splash of heavy cream, although it won’t be quite as rich.) Crushed red pepper, garlic, lemon juice and zest, and fresh mint add boldness to this creamy pasta and tender sautéed eggplant adds sweetness. The recipe calls for rigatoni, ziti, or orecchiette pasta, but you can use any shape of pasta—although noodles like linguine or spaghetti are a little hard to eat with the pieces of eggplant. This Pasta with Eggplant, Burrata, and Mint is hearty enough to serve as a vegetarian main dish, but you could serve smaller portions of it along with grilled chicken or steak. You’ll want to pick out the right eggplant for this recipe. Smaller ones tend to be creamier and more tender when cooked. Pick a firm eggplant with smooth, shinny skin. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need special skills to master cooking eggplant, just a few simple, summery recipes like this one.
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 large eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 2 cups)
1 pound uncooked rigatoni, ziti, or orecchiette pasta
8 ounces fresh Burrata or mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup torn fresh mint, plus more for serving
1 teaspoon lemon zest, plus 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
How to Make It
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium. Add crushed red pepper and garlic; cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add eggplant, and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook pasta in boiling salted water according to package directions for al dente. Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup cooking water. Place cooked pasta in a serving bowl; add eggplant mixture. Slowly add reserved cooking water, tossing to coat. Tear fresh Burrata into pieces over the bowl (to catch any cream from the cheese), and add torn fresh mint, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Toss to combine. Add salt to taste, if desired. Top servings with additional mint.