Tomatoes, eggplant and sausage make a quick sauce for this one-pot pasta

NO FUSS AND NO MESS: Pasta With Italian Sausage, Tomato and Eggplant. Scott Suchman/For The Washington Post

Do you ever eat dinner on the sofa while watching TV? I make an effort on most nights to sit at the table. I may scoop my food onto the plate stove-side, but I set out cloth napkins and glass tumblers with the aim of spending dinnertime catching up on the day's events.

I really do.

But there are some evenings when I don't want to talk. I just want to sprawl and zone out.

That's when I want a recipe like this pasta with crumbled sausage and summer's tomatoes and eggplant from "Milk Street: Tuesday Nights Mediterranean" by Christopher Kimball (Little, Brown and Company, 2021). The cookbook speaks my language, with ingredient combinations that make me go mmm mmm and chapters titled Fast, Faster and Fastest.

This one-pot dish is from the Faster chapter, and it took me just a touch over 30 minutes to get it on the table, with very little cleanup.

The cookbook author writes that the dish is "loosely based on a sausage and eggplant ragu taught to us by Maria Enza Arena in Castelbuono, Sicily." I can imagine the inspirational dish was a bit more complicated than this one, but that it was, in fact, made in the summer when ripe tomatoes and eggplant are plentiful and at their peak.

Here, you can use sweet or spicy Italian sausage removed from the casing. (Or, if you prefer, you also could make this with ground chicken or turkey or crumbled tofu, but you'd have to kick up the seasoning a bit. I'd recommend adding a tablespoon or so of dry Italian seasoning or, if you don't have that, sprinkle together a combination of dried oregano, basil, garlic and onion powder, and crushed red pepper flakes.)

You start by cooking the tomatoes. They'll burst and release their juices, but you don't want to stir them and make them fall apart just yet. Then, the sausage is added and cooked through, followed by the eggplant and water, which creates a flavorful liquid in which to cook the pasta. Pick a shape, such as campanelle, cavatappi, fusilli or gemelli, that can carry the thick sauce you're making. Because the pasta cooks in the same vessel as the vegetables, there's no need to add another hot pot for boiling water.

Just before serving, stir in a generous handful of fresh basil, and, when it's done, spoon the warm mixture into a bowl, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and, if you have them handy, a few more torn basil leaves. Then, settle in. This is an ideal dish for eating propped up in bed, on the sofa or sitting on the stoop outside, because each forkful delivers a flavorful, comforting, saucy bite with no fuss and no mess.


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