Soqquadri Pasta with ‘deconstructed’ Eggplant Parmigiana

One of the goodies I brought from my trip to Italy was a new pasta shape: soqquadri or a square version of mezzi rigatoni. (If you can’t find the square version, you can also make this recipe with the usual round mezzi rigatoni or mezze maniche.) As a small primo piatto I decided to fill the soqquadri with ‘deconstructed’ eggplant alla parmigiana: pureed eggplant, tomato sauce, pesto, and parmigiano sauce. This makes for a very elegant presentation and it is delicious as well! It is mostly suited for small portions, as filling all the individual pieces of pasta would otherwise take too long. Disposable heat-resistant piping bags make life a lot easier, but it is still 16 pieces of pasta to fill per serving.

The recipe in itself is very simple, as it is intended to make the pure flavors of eggplant, tomato sauce, parmigiano, and pesto shine. To facilitate the cheese sauce I used a trick from Modernist Cuisine, which is to add sodium citrate to the milk to avoid the sauce from curdling. It worked like a charm. You can make the cheese sauce without the sodium citrate, you will just have to be very careful not to overheat the sauce as it will curdle easily. Here’s what I did.


soqquadri pasta, mezze maniche or mezzi rigatoni, 16 pieces per serving (plus some extra in case some of them break)


extra virgin olive oil


For the pureed eggplant

1 eggplant

salt and freshly ground black pepper

extra virgin olive oil

For the tomato sauce

200 grams (1/2 can of 400 grams/14 oz) peeled tomatoes

1 clove garlic

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the parmigiano sauce

100 ml (7 Tbsp) heavy cream (or whole milk for a lighter version)

100 grams (3.5 oz) freshly grated parmigiano reggiano

4 grams sodium citrate (optional)


Preheat the oven to 225ºF/440ºF. Prick the eggplant on all sides with a fork.

Roast the eggplant at 225ºC/440ºF until tender, about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a frying pan and add the garlic (whole). Once the garlic starts to sizzle, turn off the heat and tilt the pan (I like to let it sit on something so I don’t have to hold it.) Wait until the garlic turns golden, then discard it.

Puree the tomatoes in the food processor and add to the garlic-flavored oil. Bring to a boil, stirring, then reduce the heat to a simmer.

Simmer the tomato sauce until it is not watery anymore (which you can check by swiping some aside with a spatula; when it doesn’t ‘leak’ water anymore it is done).

Press the tomato sauce through a food mill…

…to make it smooth.

Transfer the tomato sauce to a piping bag.

Once the eggplant is tender, cut off both ends. (Put the plates in the hot oven to warm them up.)

Remove the peel.

Puree the eggplant in a food processor.

Press the eggplant puree through a food mill…

…to make it completely smooth.

Transfer the eggplant puree to a piping bag.

Combine the cream with the sodium citrate. Stir to dissolve and simmer over medium heat.

Add the parmigiano gradually, stirring each addition with a wooden spoon.

Keep adding cheese and stirring until you have added all the cheese and the sauce is smooth.

Transfer to a piping bag.

Cook the pasta al dente in salted boiling water according to package instructions.

Meanwhile, warm up the parmigiano sauce, tomato sauce, and eggplant puree in hot water (about 70ºC/160ºF).

Transfer the pesto into a piping bag.

Drain the pasta. Brush a bit of extra virgin olive oil in the center of each plate and arrange 16 pasta squares neatly as 4 rows of 4 on each plate. Fill 4 squares with each filling, using insulated gloves to avoid burning your hands. Work quickly, as otherwise the pasta would cool down too much. It helps to use heated plates.

Drizzle with some more extra virgin olive oil and serve immediately.

Wine pairing

This is nice with a dry full bodied rosé, preferably made from sangiovese.


Linguine ai gamberoni alla Fra Diavolo is an interesting dish, in that it sounds Italian but originates not in Italy but in the USA. My version is an ‘upgrade’ to the usual, because I’ve used the shrimp shells to make shrimp stock and add it to the sauce.


9 thoughts on “Soqquadri Pasta with ‘deconstructed’ Eggplant Parmigiana

  1. Very cool concept. What a labour of love! When I saw the photo in my reader, I thought they were lots of bone marrow pieces. Does the pasta hold it’s filling long enough to be lifted into you mouth?


  2. Great combination of three favorite sauces and a beautiful presentation! My friend makes a lasagna with roasted eggplant and zucchini and noodles. There is a tomato-basil marinara layer, pesto layer and cheese sauce layer in the dish. Your elegant, deconstructed dish takes me back to her kitchen!


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