Hot Pepper and Eggplant Penne

Cherry Bomb peppers may look cute but these little guys pack the heat! The round red peppers – also known as Hungarian cherry peppers – are about as spicy as jalapeños and have a thick, crunchy flesh that stands up well to cooking. Keep the basil stems and toss them in your sauce for extra (and effortless!) flavor. The stems become very tender when cooked, so there's no need to remove them before serving.

Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
40 min
70 min


  • 2 Italian eggplants, diced (about 3 cups)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 fresh cherry bomb peppers (or other hot red chile such as red finger chile peppers, cayenne or Thai), seeded and finely chopped.
  • 2 tbsp capers, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups jarred or BPA-free canned unsalted whole plum tomatoes, with juices
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 2 large sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 large sprigs fresh basil, stems and leaves separated and roughly chopped, divided
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 8 oz whole-grain penne (Try: Ronzoni 100% Whole grain penne rigate)
  • 1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese


1. In a colander, toss eggplant with salt to coat. Let stand 20 minutes. Using a clean kitchen towel or paper towels, gently squeeze out
excess liquid.

2. In a large deep skillet, heat oil on medium-high. Add eggplant and sauté, stirring frequently, until golden and slightly softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Add onion and sauté until softened, 2 to 3 minutes.

3. Add cherry peppers, capers and garlic and sauté until garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomatoes with juices, wine, thyme, basil stems and black pepper and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer gently, stirring occasionally and breaking up tomatoes with the back of a spoon, until slightly thickened, about 15 minutes. Discard thyme.

4. Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook al dente according to package directions. Drain and add to eggplant mixture. Add basil leaves and toss to combine. Sprinkle with cheese. 

Nutrition Information

  • Serving Size 2 cups
  • Calories 375
  • Carbohydrate Content 57 g
  • Cholesterol Content 10 mg
  • Fat Content 11 g
  • Fiber Content 9 g
  • Protein Content 13 g
  • Sodium Content 676 mg
  • Sugar Content 8 g
  • Monounsaturated Fat Content 5 g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat Content 1 g