1Preheat the oven to 400°F. Put the eggplant in a large colander and sprinkle with about 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Toss together and set aside for 20 minutes.
2Spread the eggplant into a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with a little olive oil and toss to coat. Roast, stirring once or twice, until tender and browned, about 30 minutes.
3In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, warm 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the sausage and cook, stirring and breaking it up, until lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Transfer the sausage to a bowl, straining off any fat if necessary. Reduce the heat to medium and add a drizzle of olive oil (unless there is some fat in the pan) and add the onion. Cook, stirring, until tender, about 6 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, wine, balsamic, oregano, and red pepper flakes and stir to loosen any browned bits on the pan bottom. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer 10 minutes. Add the sausage, eggplant, and olives, bring to a simmer, and cook for another 10 minutes.
4While the sauce is simmering, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the ziti and cook according to the package directions until just shy of al dente so it is slightly undercooked. Drain well.
5Lightly oil a 9-inch-by-13-inch baking dish. Add the pasta to the sauce and stir until combined. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Spread half the pasta mixture in the prepared baking dish then dollop evenly with the ricotta. Top with the remaining pasta mixture, then and sprinkle evenly with the mozzarella and Parmesan.
6Bake until heated through and bubbling, and the cheese is golden, about 30 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes, sprinkle with the basil, and serve.
If you prefer your eggplant fried but want to avoid turning it into a grease bomb, Margo True, food editor at Sunset magazine, has a simple, useful tip.
The Perfect Ricotta Cheese
food52 cofounders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs were nearly stumped when asked for their example of a perfect food for this video. Then they realized that Betsy Devine and Rachel Mark's Salvatore Bklyn ricotta was flawless in every way. Amanda and Merrill were filmed in Bklyn Larder, a great New York store where you can find Salvatore ricotta cheese. And be sure to visit food52.com to enter their best ricotta recipe contest.