Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil.
Heat 1/4 cup of the oil in a 12-inch skillet over high heat until shimmering hot. Add the eggplant and a generous pinch of salt. Reduce the heat to medium high and cook, stirring occasionally, until the eggplant is tender and light golden brown, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Reduce the heat to medium, return the pan to the stove, and add the remaining 2 Tbs. oil, the onion, red pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt. Cook until the onion is tender and golden brown, about 6 minutes. Add the tomatoes and another pinch of salt, and cook until the tomatoes start to break down and form a sauce, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Return the eggplant to the pan, add the basil, and cook for 1 minute more to let the flavors meld. Taste the sauce and add salt if needed.
Cook the pasta in the boiling water until al dente. Reserve a small amount of the cooking water and drain the pasta. Put the pasta in a large bowl and toss with the eggplant mixture. If the pasta needs a little more moisture, add a splash of the pasta water. Taste and add salt if needed. Put the pasta on a platter or divide among shallow bowls and finish with a drizzle of oil. Sprinkle the Parmigiano or ricotta salata on top and serve immediately.
Serve with Grilled Garlic Bread on the side.
nutrition information (per serving):
based on four servings , Calories
23, Fat Calories
210, Saturated Fat
15, Monounsaturated Fat
80, Polyunsaturated Fat
Photo: Scott Phillips