Penne with Fried Eggplant

James Beard

Author and Educator

Among his significant contributions to our culinary landscape, our namesake hosted the first-ever American food program, I Love to Eat, on the fledgling medium of television in 1946. A frequent guest star on his show: pasta. “If I could afford the calories, I’m sure I could eat pasta three times a day,” he wrote in James Beard’s Simple Foods. “It is to me one of the shorter routes to heaven.” We couldn’t agree more. Here, a few of our favorites from his prolific pasta recipe collection.


  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 1½ teaspoons salt, divided
  • Vegetable oil 
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups fresh bread crumbs 
  • 3 cups fresh tomato sauce 
  • 1 pound penne pasta
  • ¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese


Cut the eggplant into ⅛-inch slices. Place in a bowl and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt. Weight the eggplant with a plate and a 4-pound weight for 2 to 3 hours, draining off water as it accumulates. Rinse off the salt and dry on paper towels. 

Pour 2 inches of the oil in a deep skillet and heat to 360˚F. Slice the eggplant across into ½-inch strips. Put the flour, pepper, and remaining ½ teaspoon of salt into a plastic bag and add the eggplant slices. Shake well to coat. Remove the eggplant strips and dip them in the egg, then in the bread crumbs, and then fry them in the hot oil until golden brown. Remove and set aside on paper towels.

Heat the tomato sauce. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook the penne according to package directions. Drain and pour the sauce over the hot pasta. Serve topped with the fried eggplant and grated Parmesan cheese.


4 to 6 servings