- ⅓ cup raisins, preferably yellow
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more if desired
- 2 small Italian eggplant, cut into ¾-inch cubes, about 2 cups
- 12 ounces small pasta
- ⅓ cup finely chopped onion
- 3 tablespoons drained brined capers
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- ¼ teaspoon red-pepper flakes
- ⅓ packed cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves, plus more torn leaves for garnish
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 cup fresh ricotta
Add the raisins, sugar, 2 tsp salt and 1 cup water to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and let cook about 2 minutes, then cover and set aside.
In a large skillet, heat 2 T olive oil over medium-high. Stir in half the eggplant to coat evenly in the oil, season generously with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and browned in spots, 7 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl. (Eggplant should be brown and tender but still maintain its shape.) Heat another 2 T olive oil, then add remaining eggplant; season and repeat.
While the eggplant cooks, bring pasta water to a boil and cook until al dente. Reserve 1 cup pasta water, then drain pasta.
Add another 2 tablespoons olive oil to the skillet and reduce the heat to medium. Cook the onion, capers, garlic and red-pepper flakes, stirring frequently, until the onion is tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to the bowl with the eggplant, along with the sliced basil and vinegar.
Strain the soaked raisins, discarding the soaking liquid, then add the raisins to the eggplant mixture and toss to coat. The mixture should taste quite aggressively salty and tangy, but it will mellow when tossed with pasta and ricotta. (Eggplant mixture can be made in advance and refrigerated for up to 2 days.)
Add eggplant mixture, pasta and ½ cup reserved pasta water to the pasta pot. Toss to coat over medium heat until eggplant is warmed, adding extra pasta water if necessary. Divide among shallow bowls, top with ricotta and additional torn basil and serve immediately.