Ratatouille Cheddar Bake

3 zucchini (1 pound)
2 sweet green peppers
1 eggplant (1 pound), peeled
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups quartered mushrooms
2 onions, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons each dried basil and oregano
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper
4 cups ziti or penne
1-1/2 cups shredded extra-sharp Cheddar cheese

Cut zucchini, green peppers and eggplant into 1-inch chunks. In large saucepan or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat; cook zucchini, peppers, eggplant, mushrooms, onions, garlic, basil and oregano, stirring occasionally, for about 25 minutes or until eggplant is very soft. Stir in tomato paste, tomatoes, sugar, salt and pepper. (Sauce can be refrigerated in air-tight container for up to 24 hours.)

Meanwhile, in large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta for 8 to 10 minutes or until tender but firm. Reserving 1/3 cup cooking water, drain pasta well. Stir reserved cooking water into vegetable mixture; stir in pasta and half of the Cheddar cheese. Transfer to 13- x 9-inch baking dish; sprinkle with remaining cheese. Cover with foil; bake in 350ºF oven for 30 minutes or until bubbling. Uncover and broil for 2 minutes or until golden.




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