So I’ve been carrying around this pasta cookbook for about 6 years now, and this is the first recipe I’ve attempted to make from it. Honestly, the cookbook is a little intimidating.
There are tons of cheeses with names I cannot pronounce, LONG ingredient lists and what seems to be pretty labor intensive pasta dishes (especially if you decide make the dish using homemade pasta). But this weekend I was feeling pretty energized so I gave one recipe a shot…
It took a little more time and effort in the kitchen than normal, but it was well worth it. Anything with cheese and pasta is bound to please my taste buds.
Pasta in an Eggplant Case
I altered quite a bit from the original recipe and hope to deliver the process in a far less intimidating way. Like always, use your creativity to add your own twist.
Serves ~6 (or 4 hungry people)
2 eggplants, thinly sliced lengthwise, lightly salted and left to drain for 30 minutes
3/4 box of whole wheat rigatoni pasta, boiled and drained
4 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 cup mushrooms, chopped
1 bunch mustard greens, chopped
1 medium red, onion
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans tomato paste mixed with 1/4 cup water
2 TBS each of dried oregano and basil
1/2 TBS dried thyme
1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
1/2 cup ricotta salata cheese
salt and pepper to taste
olive or canola oil
EGGPLANT: Preheat oven to 375. Pat eggplant slices dry and lightly sear each side to cook through. Set aside. (Boil pasta while searing these to save time). When cooled, cover the bottom and sides of a spring-form pan with eggplant; arrange some slices on the side vertically so they hang over the edge – once you add the pasta, you can fold them over the top of the pasta.
SAUCE: In a large, deep pan, saute onion and mushroom with garlic and a dash of salt and pepper. Cook until soft. Then add greens, tomatoes, paste, spices. Season to your liking. Cook for about 10 minutes, then add pasta and ricotta, and toss together.
THE CASE: Add the 1/2 the pasta inside the eggplant case, sprinkle 1/2 the ricotta salata over, then pour the rest of the pasta in, packing it down gently but firmly. Top with remaining salata.
Place more eggplant slices on the top to completely cover. Bake for 30 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before cutting.
*You could use any deep, round baking dish. The spring-form pan is great for removing everything and keeping it in one piece.
*This isn’t a very saucy dish, so if you like sauce, consider serving it with a side of fresh tomato sauce.