Courtesy of my dear friend Matteo Scarabelli, who introduced me to this lovely dish. This is my go-to recipe for when I really need to impress people. Bonus: it's vegan until you add the parmasan. No one has ever complained to me about the lack of meat. Try this one even if you have a completely rational fear of eggplant.
What you need:
Eggplant--one large one for every 2-3 servings. (I personally like using the smaller Japanese eggplants, one per serving.)
Tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes, 1 can per two servings
One large yellow onion or two smaller ones
Extra virgin olive oil--you'll need some high-quality stuff for the second phase of the recipe, but you can use any old mass-produced brand for the first part.
One clove garlic
Spaghetti noodles (Barilla is recommended by my Actual Italian friend)
Preparation: Cut the eggplant into thin slices, about 1/4-1/8". Lay the slices out on platters or paper towels laid out over a clean counter (be prepared to do some cleanup if you have to use the latter option). Salt them liberally, and I'm talking Michael Moore liberal. Cover with more paper towels. Let them lie for at least an hour. I sometimes lay them out before work and let them sit all day.
After the eggplant has lain out for the time allotted, use paper towels to mop any extra moisture off of them (they'll sweat profusely, which is what you want; it draws out the bitterness). Pour a few tablespoons of the cheaper olive oil into a pan and heat it. Fry the slices in the oil, pulling them out as soon as they start to turn brown. Layer them on a platter with towels in between.
This would be a good time to start your spaghetti. Put the water on, bring it to a boil, and add as much spaghetti as you'll need for the number of servings you're planning.
Once the eggplant is done, either pull out a different pan or discard the oil left in the one you used for the eggplant, mop it out with a paper towel, and then put in about two tablespoons of the good olive oil. At this point, you have a decision: if you're not huge on garlic, or your guests aren't, slice the garlic clove thinly and fry the slices in the oil, pulling them out just as they start to turn brown. *Do not leave them in!* If you are big on garlic, set the clove aside for now. Slice the onion thinly and cut slices in half. Sautee them in the oil until they're transparent. Add tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes. Add the fried eggplant. If you are big on garlic, like me, this is the time to crush or mince that clove and add it.
Let the sauce simmer a bit, like five to ten minutes, over medium-low heat. After it's simmered, cut up the basil with kitchen shears and stir it into the sauce. Drain your noodles. Serve immediately, with parmasan sprinkled over the top if so desired.
Notes: the onion is an optional ingredient. I personally prefer it with onion. Also, keep tasting the sauce. I find that the eggplant gets briny enough that you don't need to add extra salt, but YMMV.