Sicilian Spaghetti

Rose Rungue

James Beard Foundation

Rose may have left her childhood home in Italy for the United States, but she pays homage to her roots by sticking to classic Italian recipes when she cooks. This flavorful dish, adapted from a recipe in Clare Ferguson’s Extra Virgin cookbook (Ryland Peters & Small, 2000), is the perfect summer pasta.


  • 1 eggplant, about 12 ounces, cut into 1/2-inch cubes 
  • 1 pound cherry tomatoes, halved 
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided 
  • 1 pound dried spaghetti
  • 1/2 cup tomato purée 
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced 
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt plus more for cooking pasta
  • Ground black pepper to taste 
  • Leaves from 1 large bunch of fresh basil


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and preheat the oven to 450 º F. Meanwhile, toss the eggplant cubes with 1 teaspoon salt in a nonmetallic bowl and set aside. 

Spread the tomatoes out on a baking sheet, leaving the cut sides up. Sprinkle with the remaining teaspoon of salt and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Roast in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, or until wilted and aromatic. 

When the water boils, cook the pasta according to the package instructions, about 8 to 12 minutes, depending on the type.

Drain the eggplant (do not rinse) and pat dry with paper towels. Heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a nonstick skillet. Add the eggplant and cook, stirring frequently, until frizzled and soft, about 8 minutes. Add the roasted tomato halves, tomato purée, garlic, and black pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, for 2 to 3 minutes. Tear up most of the basil leaves and stir into the sauce. 

Test the pasta for doneness and drain in a colander. Transfer back to the pot and toss with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Divide among heated bowls, spoon over the sauce, and garnish with a few of the remaining basil leaves.


4 servings