4 Tbs extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1/2 medium red onion, chopped into 5 mm dice
4 garlic cloves, thickly sliced
2 medium aubergines, cut into 2.5 cm cubes
2 x 400 g cans of Italian plum tomatoes
2 sprigs of basil, plus leaves to garnish
1 sprig of thyme
red chilli flakes, to taste
450 g rigatoni pasta
4 Tbs soft ricotta cheese
a handful of chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat the olive oil in a 30–35 cm sauté pan until smoking. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 5–6 minutes until soft but not browned.
Add the aubergines and cook, stirring regularly, for 8–10 minutes until softened and lightly browned. Add the tomatoes, basil and thyme sprigs and chilli flakes.
Bring to the boil, then simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season to taste with salt and pepper and reduce the heat to very low so the sauce simmers gently.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pan of boiling salted water according to the packet directions, until al dente. Drain well, then pour the hot pasta into the pan with the aubergine mixture and mix together.
Top each serving with a dollop of ricotta and garnish with chopped parsley and basil leaves. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil.