I’ve cooked some version of this Eggplant Pasta so many times in so many variations, it was almost hard for me to write down the recipe.
Whole wheat noodles, hearty eggplant, plenty of Parmesan, and a few light, briny punches to bring it to life are the non-negotiables.
From there, the precise mix of ingredients is up to you!
I’m typically a stickler for clear directions and precise measurements (a reason my cookbook has nearly 1,900 5-star reviews!), but clean-out-the refrigerator pastas like this recipe are one domain where we have more freedom to play.
When I cook with this open-the-refrigerator, see-where-it-takes-me abandon I try to channel my Grandma Dorothy.
I used to chase her around the kitchen, trying furiously to write down her recipes—many of which included adding “a small box” of a particular ingredient until it “looks right.”
She had an intuition in the kitchen, and this flexible, easy pasta recipe will help you to have the same.
Half bag of spinach threatening to go bad? Stir it in here!
Garden overfloweth with zucchini? Dice a few up and sauté them with the eggplant.
A lover of Pasta Alla Norma, a classic Italian pasta dish made with eggplant, marinara, and ricotta salata? Skip the olives and capers, and swap the Parmesan for ricotta salata.
Front to back, this healthy vegetarian pasta is ready in 30 minutes. It’s one of my favorites to cook up after a trip to the farmer’s market, and it makes me feel connected to my food.
5 Star Review
“I want to dub you the one-pot dinner queen because you make the most insanely delicious one-pot meals!”— Lauren —
How to Make Eggplant Pasta
The recipe must-haves here are eggplant, which is at the recipe’s heart and makes it a healthy all-in-one meal, fresh lemon zest, which brings the eggplant pasta to life, and either olives or capers. They add an important salty and briny dimension.
- Eggplant. Packed with fiber, vitamins, and minerals, eggplant is a healthy and delicious addition to this pasta. It soaks up the flavors it’s cooked with and becomes perfectly tender (NOT soggy and NOT bitter).
- Store-Bought Pasta Sauce. This is one of my absolute favorite cooking shortcuts (the full list is in my cookbook). It makes the eggplant pasta quick and easy.
- Whole Wheat Pasta Noodles. As always, I recommend using whole wheat pasta instead of white, because it is an instant way to make any pasta recipe healthier (fist pump for extra fiber and protein!).
- Red Bell Pepper. Adds beautiful color to the pasta and oodles of vitamins.
- Olives. Olives are a salty and delicious addition that add liveliness to the pasta (as they do in this Mediterranean Pasta).
- Red Pepper Flakes. Adds a little heat without overpowering the other flavors.
- Lemon Juice + Zest. Brightens the entire dish and makes the flavors pop.
- Parmesan. A shower of freshly-grated Parmesan is a must-have addition to my bowl of pasta. It’s cheesy and takes this dish to the next level.
Eggplant goes well with Mediterranean ingredients, including feta, Parmesan, garlic, olives, capers, and summer vegetables like zucchini, red bell pepper, and tomatoes. It also pairs nicely with assorted proteins—meatballs and lamb are traditional. Shrimp also pairs wonderfully with Mediterranean flavors (evidenced by this Sheet Pan Mediterranean Shrimp and Mediterranean Shrimp).
If you’d like to play around with this recipe, look to the Mediterranean, southern France, and Italy for inspiration.
- Boil the pasta, drain it, and toss it with oil.
- Cook the eggplant and bell pepper. Add the garlic. Stir in the tomato sauce, olives, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Add the lemon juice and zest.
- Incorporate the pasta into the sauce. Top with herbs and Parmesan, then DIG IN!
To keep the eggplant from getting soggy, be sure not to overdo it on the oil. Eggplant acts like a sponge and will very quickly absorb oil. Start with a small amount of oil in the pan, then add more in small increments as needed if the eggplant is sticking.
Serve eggplant pasta with Chianti, Zinfandel, Merlot, or Cabernet Sauvignon.
How to Store and Reheat Eggplant Pasta
- To Store. Place leftovers in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- To Reheat. Gently rewarm pasta in a Dutch oven on the stovetop over medium-low heat. You can also reheat this recipe in the microwave.
- To Freeze. Freeze pasta in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
Meal Plan Tip
Chop the garlic, olives, eggplant, and red pepper up to 1 day in advance. Store each ingredient separately in the refrigerator.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Dutch Oven. One of the most-used items in my kitchen.
- Non-Stick Skillet.The perfect pan for cooking the vegetables.
- Citrus Juicer. Juicing a lemon has never been easier.
Whether you follow this eggplant pasta recipe to the letter or give it your own twist, I hope it becomes a back pocket recipe you can rely on, just as it has for us.
Eggplant Pasta Video
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- 12 ounces whole wheat pasta or gluten free pasta if needed, any shape you like (I used fusilli)
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium eggplant cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 1 pound)
- 1 large red bell pepper cut into 1/4 x 1-inch strips
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 12 ounces prepared tomato pasta sauce
- 1/2 cup kalamata olives
- Zest and juice of 1 medium lemon
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs such as parsley or basil
- Freshly grated Parmesan cheese for serving
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, according to package directions. Drain, toss with a bit of olive oil to prevent sticking, and set aside.
- Meanwhile, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium. Add the chopped eggplant and bell pepper and cook until just softened, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the garlic and sauté just until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes and stir to combine.
- Stir in the tomato sauce, then the olives. Let simmer 5 minutes, or until heated through. Stir in the lemon juice and zest.
- Stir the pasta into the eggplant tomato sauce, adding a little more of the prepared pasta sauce as needed to moisten the noodles. Served topped with chopped fresh herbs and Parmesan. Enjoy immediately.
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