Pappardelle with Eggplant Ragu and Fresh Ricotta – Recipe

Pappadelle with Eggplant Ragu
Pappardelle with Eggplant Ragu and Fresh Ricotta

Fresh pastas are most oftened paired with delicate sauces. The counterexample is a rich, flavorful ragu over wide noodles like pappardelle. Eggplant makes a terrific vegetarian ragu, accented by bell peppers and fresh ricotta. If you like, you can make this ragu pleasingly spicy by using Fresno peppers instead of red bells.

This dish is exceptional if you make your own fresh pasta at home, but still fantastic if using store-bought fresh pasta. I just got the pasta roller attachment for my Kitchen-Aid mixeras a Hanukkah present. What a difference it makes! I like my old hand-crank machine, but I always sort of wished I had three or four hands when I used it.

Pasta Maker

With the machine turning the rollers for me, it leaves me free to concentrate on getting the texture of the dough just right, adding a spritz of water or a dusting of flour if needed. Would folks find it useful if I made a video of how to do this?

A few more tips on the recipe: Be sure to cook the pasta al dente so that its elastic bite contrasts with the melting texture of the eggplant and ricotta. Also, gather all of the garnishes in advance, so when the pasta is finished you can apply them quickly and get the hot bowls right to the table.

Pappardelle with Eggplant Ragu and Fresh Ricotta
Serves 3-4 / 30 minutes

  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 red onion, finely diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 large eggplants, peeled and cut into 1” cubes
  • ½ teaspoon chili flakes
  • 1 ½ teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 1 red bell pepper, or for a spicy version
  • 3 Fresno chilis, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 pound fresh pappardelle or other fresh pasta, preferably wide, flat noodles
  • 1 ½ cups fresh ricotta cheese, room temperature (Calabro is an excellent brand)
  • minced parsley or mint
  • fresh grated Parmesan cheese
  • zest of 1 orange
  • fresh ground black pepper
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and set serving bowls aside to warm.
  2. Put the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion and garlic and saute for 1 minute, not allowing the garlic to burn. Add the eggplant, chili flakes and Kosher salt. Lower the heat to medium. Saute, stirring occasionally until the eggplant is nearly tender. You can give it a little more oil if you need to, but don’t get carried away, as it will just keep soaking it up. If there is a lot of sticking, lower the heat and add some of the red wine early.
  3. Add the red pepper and cook for 2 more minutes. Deglaze with the red wine, and continue to cook until the eggplant is fully tender. Reduce heat to very low. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  4. Boil the pasta according to package directions. For fresh pappardelle this will usually be about 5 minutes. Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of water. Toss the noodles with the simmering eggplant ragu, mixing in some or all of the pasta water to achieve a light glaze on the noodles but definitely not a soupy sauce.
  5. Divide the pasta among the serving bowls. Divide the ricotta as well, placing a few tablespoon-sized dabs on each plate. Garnish with the parsley or mint, Parmesan cheese, orange zest and black pepper and serve immediately.

Pappadelle with Eggplant Ragu2

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Posted by Michael Natkin on Monday, December 13th, 2010 in Main Courses, Recipes.

21 Responses to “Pappardelle with Eggplant Ragu and Fresh Ricotta – Recipe”

  1. cindmoore
    December 13, 2010 at 9:11 am #

    Yes! A pasta “how to” video would be fabulous! =)

  2. Sarah
    December 13, 2010 at 10:29 am #

    This looks absolutely delicious! Unfortunately, my husband is allergic to alcohol so using red wine is out. Can you suggest any alternatives? I’d love to make a modified version. Thanks!

  3. Michael Natkin
    December 13, 2010 at 10:38 am #

    Sure, you could deglaze this with a clear vegetable broth instead, and then use a small amount of lemon juice to add some acidity (or verjus or balsamic vinegar if the alcohol content in those is low enough to avoid giving him a problem). Or to go a another way, add 1 cup of tomato puree, which will give you the acid and flavor depth, but a somewhat different dish.

  4. December 13, 2010 at 12:14 pm #

    Yum! I could have this right now :-)

  5. Sara A.
    December 13, 2010 at 5:13 pm #

    I thought ricotta was made with rennet which is not vegetarian?

  6. Michael Natkin
    December 13, 2010 at 6:57 pm #

    Nope… Calabro, which is an old-school brand and my favorite, lists as ingredients: whole milk, starter, touch of salt. Typically when folks make it at home they use a little vinegar or lemon juice instead of a starter to coagulate it.

  7. December 13, 2010 at 7:25 pm #

    Hello Michael,

    This is a wonderful sauce, and yes, a video of making the pasta will be very interesting and educational.

    Have you ever tried making ricotta at home any time, without using rennet?


  8. Michael Natkin
    December 13, 2010 at 7:46 pm #

    Hey PB – indeed, I have made my own ricotta a few times. I've found it to be good, but not *as* good as the best commercial ricotta I know (Calabro, or for those in Seattle, the store-made stuff at DeLaurenti). It is however *much* better than typical grocery store ricotta, which I find to be grainy and lacking in the pure dairy sweetness of the good stuff.

  9. December 13, 2010 at 8:22 pm #

    Wow, that looks fantastic. I’ll have to go grocery shopping ASAP so I can attempt the recipe myself.

  10. December 13, 2010 at 9:55 pm #

    That looks like a great dish. Thanks for the post Michael.
    – Tommy

  11. December 13, 2010 at 10:52 pm #

    I just stumbled onto your site via the wonderful David Lebovitz and I am so glad I did. I’m a vegetarian too and your recipes look fantastic. Especially this ragu. Yum, yum, YUM! I’ve started bookmarking a few to try over the holidays.

  12. Michael Natkin
    December 13, 2010 at 11:00 pm #

    Glad to know you, Jennifer! Nice job on your site as well.

  13. December 14, 2010 at 3:19 am #

    che buone ….
    bravo , viene voglia di mangiarle

  14. December 15, 2010 at 5:35 am #

    I’m always hearing how great the KitchenAid attachment is, but I’ve never tried it. Crazy as it sounds, I really like my old fashioned hand cranked pasta machine. The sauce sounds fantastic, and I like the idea of using chiles instead of bell peppers in it too!

  15. December 20, 2010 at 5:03 pm #

    Your recipe was posted.

  16. December 21, 2010 at 6:54 pm #

    I love the orange zest you’ve added to this pasta dish. The colors are amazing, so fresh!

  17. D
    January 6, 2011 at 5:47 pm #

    Very good.. We enjoyed this quite a lot.

  18. February 8, 2011 at 12:36 pm #

    I absolutely love the photo of the pasta hanging in the kitchen…very honest!

  19. Allison
    August 11, 2011 at 9:16 am #

    do you have some good pasta noodle recipes? i am trying to learn how to make them well. i have the same rolling add-on to my mixer that you have it looks like. thanks!

  20. Michael Natkin
    August 11, 2011 at 9:24 am #

    Hey Allison – my go to book for learning how to make pasta is Cooking by Hand by Paul Bertolli. I've reviewed it here: Lots of other books and sites have the basics, but if you want to really understand what you are doing and what variables are important, he's got the dope.

    Hi Michael Natkin,
    Allison ( has left you a comment:

    do you have some good pasta noodle recipes? i am trying to learn how to make them well. i have the same rolling add-on to my mixer that you have it looks like. thanks!

    Status: Published


  21. February 6, 2012 at 6:46 am #

    Just read your interview on Velvet Aroma and you are right, this is perfect for valentines day!

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