Eggplant Marinara Pasta Casserole
Cooking Light August 2008
6 cups (1/2-inch) cubed eggplant (about 1 pound)
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1 ounce pancetta, chopped
2 cups thinly sliced onion
1 tablespoon extravirgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
16 ounces uncooked penne (tube-shaped pasta)
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded fontina cheese
1 (3-inch) piece French bread baguette (2 ounces) (I used whole-wheat)
1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1. Arrange eggplant on several layers of heavy-duty paper towels. Sprinkle eggplant with 1 teaspoon kosher salt; let stand 15 minutes. Pat dry with additional paper towels.
2. Preheat oven to 450°.
3. Arrange eggplant in a single layer on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 450° for 30 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring after 15 minutes. Remove from baking sheet; cool.
4. Cook pancetta in a Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp. Add onion, oil, and garlic to pan; cook 6 minutes or until onion is lightly browned, stirring frequently. Add wine to pan; cook until liquid evaporates, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Stir in basil, oregano, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper, and diced tomatoes. Bring to a simmer over medium heat; partially cover and cook 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove from heat; stir in eggplant.
5. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain pasta in a colander over a bowl, reserving 1/4 cup cooking water. Add pasta and reserved 1/4 cup cooking water to tomato mixture; stir well. Spoon pasta mixture into a 13 x 9–inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle evenly with fontina.
6. Place baguette in a food processor; pulse 10 times or until coarse crumbs measure 1 1/2 cups. Add Parmesan to processor; pulse 5 times. Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture evenly over fontina.
7. Bake at 450° for 12 minutes or until cheese melts and begins to brown.
This casserole was amazing. It took a long time to cook so I wouldn't cook it on a weeknight after work again, but we will definitely be having it soon. The flavor medley was amazing and the rich color after the casserole baked in the oven was beautiful (see above). I particularly loved the texture of the crumbled baguette mixed with the Parmesan cheese. After baking, the breadcrumbs became extra crunchy and were the perfect compliment to the soft melted fontina cheese.