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  • 400g rigatoni pasta
  • 300g provolone cheese, cut into 1cm cubes
  • 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • Sesame oil for frying
  • 600g aubergine
  • 50g Parmigiano Reggiano, finely grated
  • Unsalted butter to grease baking dish
  • Sea salt

Italian Tomato Sauce

  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 700g passata
  • 6 large basil leaves
  • Sea salt
  • 1/2 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 500 ml water
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

How to Make it

Preheat the oven to 180° C conventional oven/160°C fan-forced (350° Fahrenheit/Gas4). Grease a baking dish with butter or margarine.

Slice the eggplant into 1 cm thick rounds, then cut into 4

Pour enough sesame oil into a large frying pan to generously cover the base. Add the eggplant and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden. Season the eggplant with salt as you cook them and transfer to a plate lined with paper towel.

To make the italian tomato sauce, place the olive oil in a heavy-based stockpot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft. Add the passata and water. Bring to the boil, then add basil, a pinch of salt and the sugar, Add the cooked eggplant. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for approximately 45 minutes or util the sauce has reduced to your required consistency, stirring occasionally so that the sauce does not stick to the pot and burn, then remove from the heat. Add additional water, where required. Set aside 1/4 of the italian tomato sauce.

Meanwhile place a large pot with water on high heat and bring to the boil. Add a pinch of salt and rigatoni pasta to the boiling water and cook 3/4 of the “al dente” cooking time – refer to the cooking time specified in pasta packet instruction. Drain the pasta, then add to the stockpot with the remaining italian tomato sauce and eggplant. Gently toss to combine.

Spread the italian tomato sauce over the based of the baking dish. Add 1/2 of the rigatoni pasta with italian tomato sauce and eggplant, then use the back of a ladle to press it down and level it.  Add a layer using 1/2 of the provolone cheese cubes. Sprinkle 1/3 of the parmigiano reggiano cheese on the top of the provolone. Continue layering using the remaining pasta with italian tomato sauce and eggplant ( once again press it down with ladle) and provolone cheese. Finish with a layer using the remaining parmigiano reggiano sprinkled to cover the pasta bake. drizzle extra virgin oil on top.

Bake in a preheated oven for 25 minutes.