Ziti with Eggplant and Ricotta

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1 medium eggplant (about 1 1/2 pounds), cut into 1-inch pieces
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 can (28 ounces) plum tomatoes in juice
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
1 package (16 ounces) ziti or penne pasta
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 cup ricotta cheese

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. In large bowl, toss eggplant, 2 tablespoons olive oil, and 1/4 teaspoon salt until evenly coated. Arrange eggplant in single layer in two 15 1/2-inch by 10 1/2-inch jelly-roll pans or 2 large cookie sheets. Place pans with eggplant on 2 oven racks in oven. Roast eggplant 30 minutes, rotating pans between upper and lower racks halfway through cooking and stirring twice, or until eggplant is tender and golden. Remove pans with eggplant from oven; set aside. Turn oven control to 400 degrees F.

2. Meanwhile, in 3-quart saucepan, heat remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat until hot. Add onion and cook until tender, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and cook 1 minute longer, stirring frequently.

3. Stir in tomatoes with their juice, tomato paste, pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon salt, breaking up tomatoes with side of spoon; heat to boiling over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes or until sauce thickens slightly. Stir in 2 tablespoons basil.

4. In large saucepot, prepare pasta in boiling salted water as label directs. Drain; return pasta to saucepot.

5. To pasta in saucepot, add roasted eggplant, tomato sauce, and Parmesan cheese; toss until evenly mixed. Spoon mixture into six 2-cup gratin dishes or shallow casseroles; top with dollops of ricotta cheese.

6. Cover casseroles with foil and bake 20 minutes or until hot and bubbly. To serve, sprinkle tops with remaining 1 tablespoon basil.

Serves: 6

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