Recipe: Chef John DeLucie’s Pasta al la Nonna

Pasta is always a good idea, and no one makes it better than an old Italian grandma—except for maybe chef John DeLucie, whose Pasta al la nonna is everything we want a pasta dish to be: simple, fresh and familiar. You can try it for yourself at home, thanks to chef’s generously sharing his recipe.

Pasta al la nonna


  • One and a half pounds Japanese eggplant
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • Dried chili flakes to taste
  • 1 can San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano or fresh
  • 1 pound of ziti, rigatoni, or something similar
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley or basil
  • 1 cup fresh ricotta
  • Extra virgin olive oil


  1. Dice the eggplant into half inch thick cubes. Cook in abundant olive oil without crowding, season with salt and add more olive oil as needed. Cook the egg plant in batches so as not to steam them. Remove when nicely browned and creamy on the inside.
  2. In the same pan add additional oil if needed then the garlic, chilies and cook until slightly brown. Add one can of San Marzano tomatoes and break apart with a potato masher or crush beforehand your hands. Cook around 20 minutes or so until a sauce like consistency forms.
  3. Cook Penne according to package directions – use a premium brand.
  4. Combine the pasta with the sauce, mix gently until amalgamated.
  5. Divide equally in to 4 pasta bowls and garnish with the parsley, fresh ricotta cheese and a few drops of extra virgin olive oil.