I simply love pasta and am convinced that no matter how it is prepared I will like it. Almost no way is a bad way. This particular pasta dish was just delicious and hearty and I’m passing it on to you. I sort of winged my way through it but wrote down key ingredients and key measurements. I know some people have moral objections to eating veal so maybe you can substitute with ground turkey. It will have a totally different flavor but am sure it will taste just fine. I happen to love the taste of ground veal in this pasta and although Joel picked out every last piece of eggplant he still loved it!
1 medium eggplant, a nice firm eggplant with smooth skin, evenly firm, and no real soft spots.
Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
2 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 lbs. ground veal
10 – 12 leaves fresh sage, thinly sliced
pinch of ground nutmeg or if you have fresh nutmeg a few grates is perfect (this adds a nice punch of flavor)
1 small onion , finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1/3 cup half and half
1 lb. pasta noodle like ziti, penne, any sturdy cut pasta noodle
Peel part of the skin off the eggplant in strips with vegetable peeler, you do this the long way, cutting off and discarding the very top of eggplant ( the stem side) Leave about 1/2 the peel on and 1/2 off. Slice and dice the eggplant and then sprinkle with kosher salt and let drain on a few paper towels while you continue prepping. I like the flavor of some peel and it keeps eggplant from becoming too mushy.
In a Dutch oven or large deep skillet, heat the olive oil, melt in the butter and over medium heat add the veal and cook , breaking up with a wooden spoon. Veal should be lightly browned , should take about 5 minutes or so. Season with Salt and Pepper, add the sage and nutmeg. Increase the heat to medium-high: stir in the onion, garlic and eggplant. Partially cover the pan and cook, stirring often until the vegetables soften, about 10 minutes or so.
Add the tomato paste, stir for a couple of minutes. Add the wine, scraping the bottom of the pan. Add the stock and half and half. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the sauce while the pasta cooks.
I let sauce simmer for a while, you can keep a little pasta water ( a cup or so) if you need to thin out sauce.
Bring a pot of water to a boil, add salt to boiling water for pasta. Cook pasta according to the box directions for al dente. Drain, and reserve a cup or so of pasta water. You may need to stir some in to sauce if sauce seems to thick. Toss pasta with sauce, season to taste, and top with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.