Sausage and Eggplant Baked Pasta

Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time45 minutes
Total Time55 minutes

Sausage and eggplant come together with creamy ricotta and tangy parmesan cheese to create an Italian American comfort dish classic.

Sausage and eggplant baked pasta

My husband’s family is Italian, so you can only imagine how sacred pasta is in our home. Italian food is eaten in our home as often as Lebanese food, as our family culture stems a lot from delicious food! Today I’m sharing a slight twist on a classic comfort food, Sausage and Eggplant Baked Pasta. If you like a baked ziti, then you’ll love this baked pasta dish.

Ingredients

  • Pasta: I prefer to use penne or bowtie pasta, but whatever you choose, swap the white pasta out for the whole wheat variety to add protein and fiber.
  • Sausage: In my dish, I used a mild turkey sausage, but you could mix it up with sweet or spicy, and use pork sausage if you don’t care about the added fat.
  • Onion: I use a white onion as it’s mild, but caramelizes to add delicious flavor.
  • Garlic: Nutty, earthy, and sweet as it cooks, it’s a staple in most Italian dishes.
  • Eggplant: Adding the eggplant adds meatiness so you can use less sausage. Eggplant also absorbs the flavors of whatever it’s cooked in, while adding creamy texture.
  • Tomato sauce: I like to use a classic flavor, like tomato and basil, but use what you have! Store-bought or homemade work great.
  • Ricotta: A great source of calcium and slightly sweet, it’s a classic cheese used in baked dishes like lasagna.
  • Egg: Acts as a binder in the ricotta mixture so that it stays in place while baking.
  • Parsley: Adds fresh, earthy flavor to the dish.
  • Parmesan: Salty, nutty, and full of flavor, you won’t need to pile on as much cheese for a pungent flavor.

How to Make Sausage and Eggplant Baked Pasta

Liz cubing an eggplant

Start your Sausage and Eggplant Baked Pasta by preparing your produce, like cutting the eggplant into cubes, dicing your onion, and mincing the parsley.

Cooking sausage in skillet

Then in a large skillet, brown your sausage (removed from the casing) in a bit of olive oil. Once fully browned and cooked, remove from skillet and set aside.

Cokking pasta

While the sausage is browning, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta according to package instructions. Once cooked, drain pasta and set aside.

Grating garlic into skillet

Then in the same pan you cooked the sausage, add the diced onion and grated garlic with a pinch of salt and pepper, and cook until soft and caramelized.

Adding eggplant to onion

Add in the cubed eggplant with another pinch of salt and pepper and cook until soft. If you like a kick of heat, you could also add some red pepper flakes at this point.

Adding tomato sauce to sausage and eggplant

Next add your favorite tomato sauce to the sausage and eggplant, and stir until evenly mixed. Remove from heat.

Adding eggplant and sausage mixture to pasta

Once pasta is cooked and drained, add the sausage and eggplant sauce and stir until evenly coated.

Cracking egg into ricotta

Then to create your ricotta layer, put your ricotta cheese in a medium bowl and add in your egg.

Mixing ricotta with egg and parsley

Add in the freshly chopped parsley and mix until combined.

Layering pasta and ricotta cheese mixture in dish

Then in your preferred baking dish, begin layering 1/3 of the pasta, covered by half of the ricotta, and continue until gone. Sprinkle the top with parmesan cheese before covering with foil.

Spoonful of sausage and eggplant baked pasta

Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes, broiling for the last few minutes to create a bubbly, cheesy layer on top. Then serve with fresh parsley and basil, and enjoy your Sausage and Eggplant Baked Pasta!

Easy Substitutions

  • Make it gluten-free. Use your favorite gluten-free pasta and sausage to make this dish celiac friendly.
  • Make it vegetarian. There are so many wonderful plant-based sausages these days, so use that instead!

Frequently ASked Questions:

Do you cut skin off eggplant before cooking?

You can, but I don’t think it’s always necessary. Depending on how thick the skin is on your eggplant, it might make it more texturally appealing. On larger eggplants, it might also make it less bitter.

How do you keep pasta from getting hard in pasta bake?

Start with slightly undercooked pasta, as they will keep cooking in the oven. Then make sure that there is enough liquid and moisture in the dish to cover the majority of it. The only noodles that should be slightly hard are the ones on top or that have corners sticking out of the sauce.

How do you store leftover pasta bake?

Keep it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.

sausage and eggplant baked pasta

More Italian Dishes

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Liz eating sausage and eggplant baked pasta.

A delicious, kid-friendly meal that takes little effort, the whole family will enjoy my Sausage and Eggplant Baked Pasta.

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Sasuage and eggplant baked pasta

Sausage and Eggplant Baked Pasta

4.29 stars average
Sausage and eggplant come together with creamy ricotta and tangy parmesan cheese to create an Italian American comfort dish classic.
PREP: 10 minutes
COOK: 45 minutes
TOTAL: 55 minutes
Servings6

Ingredients
 

  • 6 ounces whole wheat penne (cooked according to package instructions)
  • 2 Italian sausage links (sweet or spicy)
  • 1 medium onion (diced)
  • 4 cloves garlic (minced)
  • pinch salt and pepper
  • 1 eggplant (diced – skin for added nutrients)
  • 2 cups tomato basil sauce ((canned or homemade low sodium preferred))
  • 15 ounces ricotta (part skim)
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup parsley
  • ¼ cup parmesan
  • basil and parsley to serve

Instructions
 

  • Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Remove sausage from casings and cook over medium-high heat in a sauce pot sprayed with non-stick spray. Brown 8-9 minutes; remove from pan and set aside.
  • Add onion and garlic to the pan with a good pinch of salt and pepper and saute until softened, about 5-7 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, mix together ricotta, egg and parsley in a small bowl; set aside.
  • Add eggplant to the onion mixture with another pinch of salt and pepper stirring frequently until softened, about 6-7 minutes.
  • Add tomato basil sauce to the pan along with cooked sausage and pasta. Check for seasoning and adjust accordingly; remove from heat.
  • Pour 1/3 of the pasta/sausage mixture into a 9 x 13 baking pan then top with half of the ricotta mixture using a tablespoon to create big dollops. Add another 1/3 of the pasta mixture and top with the remaining half of the ricotta. Finally, add the remaining pasta then sprinkle parmesan cheese evenly on top.
  • Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes.
  • Turn broiler on high for the last few minutes to create a bubbly, cheesey, delicious topping.

Notes

When browning sausage, don’t be afraid of a little color. The browner, the better, because brown = flavor!

Nutrition

Calories: 355kcalCarbohydrates: 40.5gProtein: 19.7gFat: 14.4gSaturated Fat: 4.9gPolyunsaturated Fat: 9.5gCholesterol: 91mgSodium: 1014mgFiber: 7.7gSugar: 8.1g

Photo of Liz Della Croce

Hi, I’m Liz!

Hey there, I’m Liz Della Croce and I’m thrilled to have you here! My aim is to motivate and ignite your passion for cooking amazing meals for your loved ones. I believe in the power of real, wholesome ingredients that are bursting with flavor and won’t break the bank. Whether it’s a traditional Lebanese recipe from my family or a culinary creation from across the globe, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to discover that nutritious food can be exciting, affordable, and easy to prepare.

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12 responses to “Sausage and Eggplant Baked Pasta”

  1. Shoni Avatar
    Shoni

    I was wondering if I could prepare this the day before and bake it the next day? Please let me know your thoughts!

    1. Liz DellaCroce Avatar
      Liz DellaCroce

      Yes you could! Just keep it covered and in the fridge overnight.

      1. Shoni Avatar
        Shoni

        Awesome. Thanks!

  2. Gideon Avatar
    Gideon

    Brilliant recipe

  3. Melissa Avatar
    Melissa

    Made this tonight – so so good! I lightened it further using fat free ricotta & it was still wonderful. 445 cals for 1/4 of the recipe – a huge portion! Will make this again for sure!!

    1. Liz DellaCroce Avatar
      Liz DellaCroce

      Oh I’m so glad you loved it!! Love the ricotta idea too!

  4. Amanda Avatar
    Amanda

    in the oven now & so excited to eat this dish! But is it supposed to be 16 oz of pasta? 6 just seemed a little small.

    1. The Lemon Bowl Avatar
      The Lemon Bowl

      A serving of pasta is 2 oz per person (don’t shoot the messenger!!) I know, I know. But by bulking up with eggplant the dish goes a long way! Let me know how it is!

      1. Amanda Avatar
        Amanda

        Turned out great! Even with the entire bag of pasta. We have LOTS of leftovers in the freezer. I’m excited to try it again in the future with only 6 oz, because I’m sure it will taste entirely different.

        1. The Lemon Bowl Avatar
          The Lemon Bowl

          I’m so glad you enjoyed it!!!

  5. Christy Milford (@SweetSavoring) Avatar
    Christy Milford (@SweetSavoring)

    I think you’ve inspired me to make a baked Italian dish for tonight! We just scored a bunch of ricotta, mozzarella and veggies, so this sounds perfect. And normally I love eggplant, but since zucchini is what we’ve got, I’ll grill some of that and do a variation on this recipe :)

  6. Ali | Gimme Some Oven Avatar
    Ali | Gimme Some Oven

    This looks wonderful! I love all sorts of baked pastas during the cooler months, and love all of that eggplant!

Liz Della Croce eating black bean dip

Hi I’m Liz!

Hey there, I’m Liz Della Croce and I’m thrilled to have you here! My aim is to motivate and ignite your passion for cooking amazing meals for your loved ones.