Not your speedy Meatless Monday dish, but one for when you have a bit of extra time to enjoy in the kitchen.
This casserole was a bit complicated and took a while to make, but it was worth it. Lots of things have to be done at once while cooking this casserole. It is a bit messy, especially when taking it out of the pan because of all the yummy sauce. It is an easy way to get lots of your daily vegetables at once (and empty out the fridge!). I like to add more cheese than the recipe calls for to make the dish gooier, and I strongly recommend using fresh mozzarella. there are lots of flavors in this tasty dish. The basil provides a really nice, sharp flavor. This casserole would be good served with some garlic bread or a crisp green salad.
What you need…
- 1 pound rigatoni
- One 28-ounce can peeled Italian tomatoes
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 large eggplant, cut into 1/3-inch dice
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 2 large zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced crosswise 1/3 inch thick
- 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup torn basil leaves
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 pound mozzarella, shredded
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (2 ounces)
- Preheat the oven to 350°. Cook the rigatoni in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking water. Return the pasta to the pot while preparing the sauce.
- Puree the tomatoes with their juices in a blender or food processor. Pass the puree through a fine sieve set over a bowl to remove the seeds.
- Heat 1/4 cup of the vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet. Line a large plate with paper towels. Add half of the eggplant to the skillet and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the eggplant to the plate to drain. Repeat with the remaining eggplant and vegetable oil and add to the first batch of eggplant. Discard the oil in the skillet.
- Heat the olive oil in the same skillet used to cook the eggplant. Add the garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the zucchini and onion and cook over high heat, stirring often, until slightly softened, about 6 minutes. Add the tomato puree, basil and oregano and simmer over moderate heat until the sauce is reduced by one-third, about 15 minutes. Stir in the eggplant and season with salt and pepper.
- Fold the eggplant and zucchini sauce into the rigatoni along with the mozzarella and the reserved pasta cooking water. Transfer the pasta to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and sprinkle the Parmesan cheese evenly over the top. Bake for 15 minutes, or until heated through. Serve the pasta piping hot.
MAKE AHEAD The recipe can be prepared through Step 4 and kept at room temperature for up to 2 hours. Add about 10 minutes to the baking time.
Contributed by an unknown Nikela Volunteer
(if it was you let us know so we can give you credit)