Sunday, March 11, 2012

Cheesy Baked Pasta with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce and Eggplant


Eggplant seems to get kind of a bad rap, but I for one really love it.  It can be used in several different cuisines, cooks quickly, and it stands up to pretty much any cooking method - roasted, broiled, baked, grilled, etc.  So how about if you mix it into a baked pasta dish with Parmesan, mozzarella, garlic, and roasted red pepper sauce?  And then top it all off with crunchy breadcrumbs?  The result is a filling and comforting pasta dish that is reminiscent of eggplant parmesan.

Joey is one of those people who isn't crazy about eggplant, so I try to be creative with it when I make it, and he loved this dish.  As did Caroline.  It made enough for plenty of leftovers, so we enjoyed it for dinner another night, and I ate it a few times for lunch as well.



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Cheesy Baked Pasta with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce and Eggplant
adapted from America's Test Kitchen, Pasta Revolution
  • 3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 oz. Parmesan cheese, grated (1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can fire-roasted diced tomaotes
  • 3 cups roasted red peppers, rinsed, patted dry, and coarsely chopped (24 oz jar)
  • 1 1/2 lbs eggplant, chopped into 1-inch cubes
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp minced fresh oregano, or 1/4 tsp dried
  • 1/8-1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 4 cups water
  • 12 oz short pasta shapes (I used rotini)
  • 6 oz. fresh mozzarella, sliced thin
  • 2-3 Tbs chopped fresh basil
Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and preheat to 375 degrees.  Toss the panko with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Spread on a rimmed baking sheet and bake, stirring often, until golden-brown, 5 to 10 minutes.  Let cool slightly and then toss with 1/2 cup of the Parmesan.

Meanwhile, pulse the tomatoes and red peppers in the food processor until coarsely ground and no large pieces remain, about 10 pulses.

Line a large plate with a double layer of paper towels.  Toss the eggplant in a medium bowl with 1 teaspoon of salt and then spread it out over the plate.  Microwave uncovered, about 10 minutes, tossing halfway through.  The eggplant should be dry and starting to shrivel.  Let the eggplant cool slightly, then toss with 1 tablespoon of the oil in the bowl.  Set aside.

Heat 1 Tablespoon of the oil in a 12-inch ovensafe skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the eggplant and cook until well browned and tender, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Return to the bowl.

 Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the remaining tablespoon of oil.  Saute the garlic, red pepper flakes, and oregano until fragrant but not browned, about 1 minute.  Stir in the tomato mixture and 1 teaspoon of salt, and increase the heat to medium-high.  Stir in 3 1/2 cups of water and the pasta.  Cover and cook at a vigorous simmer, stirring often, until the pasta is tender, 15 to 18 minutes.

If the sauce seems too thick, stir in the remaining 1/2 cup water.  Add the remaining 1 cup of Parmesan and eggplant, and season with salt and pepper.  Stir to combine, then top with the slices of mozzarella.  Sprinkle the panko mixture over the cheese and transfer the skillet to the oven.  Bake until the topping is well-browned and cheese is melted, 5 to 10 minutes.  Sprinkle the basil over the top and serve.


30 comments:

Elizabeth said...

This looks delicious! You can never go wrong with cheesy pasta.

Courtney J said...

Yum! This looks so tasty! :)

Made in Sonoma said...

This looks soooo delicious!

Becca @ Amuse Your Bouche said...

I could totally devour an entire pan of this right now. It looks amazing!

Dawnye7 said...

Look at that cheese. This is one of those dinners that I would just hand everyone a fork and say 'get to the stove now'.

Laura said...

This looks insanely good. It's funny, cause I wanted a pasta dish this week - but wasn't up to searching for something new. You did the work for me, old girl! Looks great.

Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar said...

This is absolutely delightful! What a yummy recipe!

Jen said...

i love eggplant. this looks great josie!

Kathy Martin said...

This looks fabulous! I'm not an eggplant fan...what could I substitute it for? What about zucchini?

cupcakesandkalechips.com said...

This looks so yummy. I really like eggplant, too. I've never tried microwaving it, but I salt it a little, then squeeze it out, and it has a meaty texture. Not sure if you saw the pingback, but I did an eggplant spin on your Lasagna-Stuffed Portobellos, and made an Eggplant "Faux"-lognese sauce. If you read it, I hope it amuses you.

http://cupcakesandkalechips.com/2012/03/08/eggplant-parmesan-lasagna-faux-bolognese-saucerecipe/

Krissy's Creations said...

It is so weird that eggplant does have a bad rap. I love it too! And I love that you added it into baked pasta!

Joanne said...

So...I'm having a boy come over for dinner on Friday and I think I might HAVE to make this. It looks so good!

Alida said...

This sounds incredible. I love how cheesy it looks in the picture too.

Sara {home is where the cookies are} said...

Oh my gosh! Look at that cheese! Looks perfect!

elly said...

This looks great. Tom and I are both like eggplant, but don't LOVE it. Pretty sure we'd love this dish, though. And it looks like my new prep-Sunday-to-eat-Monday meal. :)

Lyn @LovelyPantry said...

Absolutely delightful! You had me at cheese... :-) I don't love eggplant but I'd eat it i this dish. Very nice recipe.

MyFudo™ said...

I have a similar recipe but I think the pepper sauce elevated this dish into a whole new level. Must try...

Vicky said...

Looks perfectly cheesy and delicious. I've never combined roasted red peppers and eggplant in a pasta dish before - am interesting in seeing how it tastes!

Josie said...

Hi Kathy, I think zucchini would be fine - I would just skip the salting/microwave step. I also think that mushrooms would work really well!

Bryan and YiRan said...

Hey there! We tried your portobello cap lasagna recipe last week (will be posting our results soon!) and looks like this might be next on the list. Anything with roasted red peppers is fine by me!

mimo said...

this looks absolutely delicious!

Danielle said...

I wanted to stop by and let you know that I featured this on my "What I Bookmarked This Week" post today stop by and see - and grab a button if you'd like.

Anonymous said...

Not very tastey : (

Cooking Ripe! said...

Oooo....I like the roasted red pepper in your recipe! I am going to try that too!

I have a roasted eggplant and tomato with caramelized onions recipe you and your readers may also enjoy. Bon Appetit

http://cookingripe.wordpress.com/2012/09/21/roasted-eggplant-tomato-pasta-the-best-pasta-youll-ever-eat/

Anonymous said...

Do you think this recipe would taste as good without the panko crumb mixture on top? Or is that a large part of why its delicious? Thanks! :)

Josie said...

Anonymous, I personally loved it... if you can't find panko I'd use fresh breadcrumbs instead.

Ana said...

What a nice change from the usual pasta w/ marinara- thanks! I can't wait to make this for a new mom who is vegetarian!

Followed the recipe exactly, but at the end split it into two 8x8. One pan was plenty for the three of us, and the second I froze for later. For the second one I only put the mozz and breadcrumb topping just before baking. I used penne which I think holds up better than rotini; my rotini always breaks up/gets mushy faster.

Kristine said...

We made this for dinner last night and it was wonderful! I love the roasted red pepper sauce, and the eggplant was delicious. We'll definitely be making this one again!

Lisa B. said...

I just made this and it's absolutely delicious! The only thing I'd mention is that I used a big pot instead of a skillet, then transferred the whole thing into a 9x13 Pyrex, and I still had extra that went into a smaller Pyrex that I baked as well. My husband and I are going wild over this one. Thanks!

kmmunoz said...

Any suggestions on what to do with the eggplant if you don't have a microwave? Thanks!

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