Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and set serving bowls aside to warm.
Put the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion and garlic and saute for 1 minute, not allowing the garlic to burn. Add the eggplant, chili flakes and Kosher salt. Lower the heat to medium. Saute, stirring occasionally until the eggplant is nearly tender. You can give it a little more oil if you need to, but don’t get carried away, as it will just keep soaking it up. If there is a lot of sticking, lower the heat and add some of the red wine early.
Add the red pepper and cook for 2 more minutes. Deglaze with the red wine, and continue to cook until the eggplant is fully tender. Reduce heat to very low. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Boil the pasta according to package directions. For fresh pappardelle this will usually be about 5 minutes. Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of water. Toss the noodles with the simmering eggplant ragu, mixing in some or all of the pasta water to achieve a light glaze on the noodles but definitely not a soupy sauce.
Divide the pasta among the serving bowls. Divide the ricotta as well, placing a few tablespoon-sized dabs on each plate. Garnish with the parsley or mint, Parmesan cheese, orange zest and black pepper and serve immediately.
**Want to hear more from Micheal Natkin? Check out a Q&A with this food genius in our Pasta Spotlight!