Bucatini with Eggplant and Smoked Mozzarella

1 small eggplant, peeled
3 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups crushed tomatoes
1 Tbsp. olive paste
1/4 tsp. dried pepper flakes
1 lb. bucatini or other hollow pasta
150 g. smoked mozzarella or smoked fontina

Slice eggplant lengthwise into 1 cm thick slices. Place in a colander and sprinkle with salt on both sides. Let drain for 30 minutes.
Rinse off eggplant with cold water and pat dry with towels. Cut eggplant into cubes.
Heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil over high heat and brown eggplant. Remove from pan and reserve.
Add remaining 1 Tbsp. oil to pan and saute garlic over medium heat. Add tomatoes, olive paste and pepper flakes. Simmer for 5 minutes or until slightly thickened. Add browned eggplant and simmer for 5 more minutes. Season with additional salt.
Meanwhile, cook bucatini until al dente.
Drain cooked pasta and add to sauce. Add smoked mozzarella and toss until cheese melts.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Adapted from a recipe in "Trattoria Cooking" by Biba Caggiano, Macmillan Publishing