Sausage and eggplant come together with creamy ricotta and tangy parmesan cheese to create an Italian American comfort dish classic.
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.
- 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
Start your Sausage and Eggplant Baked Pasta by preparing your produce, like cutting the eggplant into cubes, dicing your onion, and mincing the parsley.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Next add your favorite tomato sauce to the sausage and eggplant, and stir until evenly mixed. Remove from heat.
Once pasta is cooked and drained, add the sausage and eggplant sauce and stir until evenly coated.
Then to create your ricotta layer, put your ricotta cheese in a medium bowl and add in your egg.
Add in the freshly chopped parsley and mix until combined.
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.
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!
- 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.
More Italian Dishes
- Shrimp and Broccoli Penne
- One-Pan Italian Sausage Pasta
- Grilled Chicken with Fresh Tomato Basil Salsa
- Oven Baked Chicken Parmesan
- Easy Ground Turkey Bolognese
Eat It, Like It, Share it!
Did you try this pasta recipe? The next time you make it, snap a picture and share it to your socials! Tag @thelemonbowl and #thelemonbowl so we can admire and share your dish.
A delicious, kid-friendly meal that takes little effort, the whole family will enjoy my Sausage and Eggplant Baked Pasta.
Your fork is waiting.
Sausage and Eggplant Baked Pasta
- 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
- 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.