Nutrition per serving may change if servings are adjusted.
4 ounces bulk sweet Italian sausage
4 cups peeled and chopped eggplant
2 medium fennel bulbs, trimmed, cored, and thinly sliced
1 (14.5 ounce) can crushed fire-roasted tomatoes
½ cup water
¼ cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning, crushed
6 to 8 ounces dried cut ziti or penne pasta
½ cup snipped fresh basil
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (4 ounces)
Snipped fresh basil
In a large skillet cook sausage over medium-high heat until brown, using a wooden spoon to break up meat as it cooks. Drain off fat.
In a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker combine sausage, eggplant, fennel, tomatoes, water, wine, tomato paste, garlic and Italian seasoning. Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 6 to 7 hours or on high-heat setting for 3 to 3½ hours.
If using low-heat setting, turn to high-heat setting. Stir in pasta and basil. Cover and cook for 30 minutes (see Tip). Stir pasta mixture. Sprinkle with cheese. Cover and cook for 10 minutes more. Let stand, uncovered, for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with additional basil.
Tip: Skip the last 30 minutes of cooking by tossing eggplant mixture and basil with 6 to 8 ounces of cooked pasta. Sprinkle with cheese; continue as directed.