Thursday, January 12, 2012

Baked Penne with Eggplant

This is really more of a method than a strict recipe. I do baked pastas sometimes with just tomato sauce and sometimes with any veggies I have on hand. This is really similar to my Pasta with Roasted Veggies with the added step of topping it all with cheese and baking it. When you bake it, the edges get a little crispy and let's face it - melted cheese makes anything better. Hope you enjoy this!

Time: 45 minutes
Serves: 4

  • 1/2 a box of penne pasta - I use the Whole Wheat or Whole Grain
  • 1 batch (3 cups) of tomato sauce (5 Minute Marinara Sauce or Marcella Hazan's Sauce)
  • 1 eggplant*
  • 1 cup of grated mozzarella cheese
  • olive oil, kosher salt and pepper
  • fresh parsley to top (optional)
  1. Set a large pot of water to boil for your pasta and preheat the oven to 400°
  2. Cut the top off your eggplant and peel the skin by cutting down around the outside.
  3. Now cut your eggplant into 3/4 inch cubes. Cut 3/4 inch slices lengthwise down the eggplant, then cut those slices into 3/4 inch strips. Now cut each of your strips into cubes.
  4. Pre-cook your eggplant either on the stove or in the oven. I did it on the stove but in hindsight, the oven might be smarter/easier. If you do it on the stove, add about 1 tsp of olive oil to a saute pan over medium heat. Once it's hot, add 1/2 of your eggplant and cook until it's browned on all sides. Then repeat with the second batch. If you do it in the oven, toss your eggplant with about 1 TBSP of olive oil and some salt and pepper and lay on a foil-lined baking sheet.
  5. Grate your cheese
  1. Once your oven is pre-heated, pop your eggplant in for 10 minutes until your eggplant starts to brown.
  2. Meanwhile, make your tomato sauce and when your water boils, add a couple of TBSP of salt and your pasta and cook it 1 minute less than the lowest cooking time on your box.
  3. Drain your pasta and then add it back to your boiling pot. Add your eggplant, 1/2 of your grated cheese and most of your sauce. I like to keep a little sauce on the side to serve. Stir this all together, then add to a casserole dish that's been sprayed with Pam or brushed with olive oil.
  4. Top the pasta off with the rest of your grated cheese and a drizzle of olive oil. Bake for 20 minutes or so until your cheese is browned. Top with chopped fresh parsley and serve with extra sauce on the side.

*Eggplant - Check out my Eggplant Parmesan post to see how to pick the best eggplant.

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