Gourmet Veggie Mama

Baked Ziti with Eggplant and Smoked Mozzarella

I do love a good, hearty, warm casserole, but with spring in full force here, the time for such things is quickly drawing to a close. With that in mind, I made baked ziti the other day, but with a couple of spring-y twists.

baked ziti

Eggplant-licious!

It made a lovely dinner, with plenty of leftovers for all of us. Nora was a fan!

Baked Ziti with Eggplant and Smoked Mozzarella
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 medium eggplant, sliced crosswise into ¼-inch rounds
  • 1 lb ziti or other short, tubular pasta
  • 4 Tbs olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 28-oz can of crushed tomatoes*
  • 2 Tbs chopped fresh basil leaves, or a nice sprinkle of dried basil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 8 oz smoked mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 oz parmesan cheese, grated
Instructions
  1. Toss the eggplant with 1 Tbs kosher salt and place in a colander to drain, about 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400°.
  2. Cook the pasta in salted boiling water according to package directions. Drain, reserving ¼ cup of the cooking water.
  3. Toss the pasta with 1 Tbs of the olive oil and set aside.
  4. Spread the salted eggplant over a double layer of paper towels and pat dry, wiping off any extra salt. Heat the remaining 3 Tbs olive oil in a large skillet until shimmering, and add the eggplant. Cook until the eggplant begins to brown, about 5 minutes.
  5. Reduce the heat to medium low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the eggplant is fully tender, 10-15 minutes.
  6. Stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the crushed tomatoes and simmer until thickened slightly, about 10 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the basil and salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Add the tomato sauce and reserved pasta cooking water to the pasta and stir to combine.
  8. Pour half of the pasta mixture into a 9 x 13-inch baking dish or casserole of equivalent size. Sprinkle with half of the mozzarella and half of the parmesan. Add the rest of the pasta mixture and sprinkle with the remaining cheeses.
  9. Cover with foil and bake until the cheese melts, about 15 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake until the cheese begins to brown, about 5 minutes more.
Notes
* I used fire-roasted tomatoes and it was a nice touch, though not necessary.

 

Baked Ziti with Eggplant and Smoked Mozzarella
From Cook’s Illustrated’s Cover & Bake, with my modifications

1 medium eggplant, sliced crosswise into 1/4-inch rounds
1 lb ziti or other short, tubular pasta
4 Tbs olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 28-oz can of crushed tomatoes*
2 Tbs chopped fresh basil leaves, or a nice sprinkle of dried basil
Salt and pepper
8 oz smoked mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 oz parmesan cheese, grated

Toss the eggplant with 1 Tbs kosher salt and place in a colander to drain, about 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400°.

Cook the pasta in salted boiling water according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking water. Toss the pasta with 1 Tbs of the olive oil and set aside.

Spread the salted eggplant over a double layer of paper towels and pat dry, wiping off any extra salt. Heat the remaining 3 Tbs olive oil in a large skillet until shimmering, and add the eggplant. Cook until the eggplant begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the eggplant is fully tender, 10-15 minutes. Stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the crushed tomatoes and simmer until thickened slightly, about 10 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the basil and salt and pepper to taste.

Add the tomato sauce and reserved pasta cooking water to the pasta and stir to combine. Pour half of the pasta mixture into a 9 x 13-inch baking dish or casserole of equivalent size. Sprinkle with half of the mozzarella and half of the parmesan. Add the rest of the pasta mixture and sprinkle with the remaining cheeses. Cover with foil and bake until the cheese melts, about 15 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake until the cheese begins to brown, about 5 minutes more.

* I used fire-roasted tomatoes and it was a nice touch, though not necessary.

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2 Thoughts on “Baked Ziti with Eggplant and Smoked Mozzarella

  1. You have reminded me of my kids’ favorite book, Bad Kitty, in which the family buys the cat some “Baked Zebra Ziti”. Maybe I can pass this off to my kids that way. Hmmmmm. Surely they’ll love some of it SOMETIME before I die of eating the same things every night or else cooking a mountain for only me to eat.

  2. I wish I had better eggplant eaters in my house. Maybe if I chopped it very small.

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