Pasta al Forno with Roasted Eggplant

Pasta al Forno with Roasted Eggplant

1lb cooked ziti
My Marinara Sauce  (click link for recipe)
1 eggplant, washed, sliced lengthwise
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1.5 cup grated Romano Cheese
1/2 lb fresh mozzarella, cut into rough pieces
16 oz skim Ricotta
1 handful fresh parsley, washed and chopped (2 tablespoons dried)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste

There are many parts to this dish, so keeping track of when things are done is key. First start by making the sauce. Once the sauce is a third way cooked, start cooking the pasta and work on the eggplant.

For the Eggplant. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Wash the eggplant then cut lengthwise. Place on a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper that is drizzled with 1 tablespoon of oil ( via two sheets= 2 tbsp ). Let roast in the oven for 20 minutes, until fully cooked and browned around the edges.
Set aside one slice of eggplant cut into strips for the top of the pasta. Cut the rest of the eggplant into small pieces then fold into the sauce.
Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl add the ricotta, 3/4 cup of Romano cheese, parsley, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and pepper. Incorporate fully.
Set aside.

Set oven to 350 degrees.

In a baking pan, 13×9, ladle a spoonful of sauce on the bottom and tilt till covered. Add in half the pasta, and ladle sauce over top, slightly mixing in the pan. Then top with remaining pasta.

A tablespoon at a time, dollop the ricotta mixture and place onto the pasta, gently spreading and weighing it into the pasta with a spoon till it almost is to the bottom of the pan. Continue till a few tablespoons are used.

On top of the ricotta, sprinkle about a quarter cup of Romano on top, then cover with more sauce.

When the top is covered with sauce, dollop more ricotta in spots spreading it through,  Then place the mozzarella on top as well, then cover with remaining Romano. Add the eggplant strips.

Place in top rack of oven then let bake for 35 minutes until the top is crunchy and the sauce is boiling around the edges. Let stand for 10 minutes after removing it from the oven before serving.


White Bean Dip with Roasted Garlic

White Bean Dip with Roasted Garlic
2 heads of garlic, roasted (*roasting directions below)
2 (15oz) cans white cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (reserving one can’s liquids)
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon paprika
a handful of fresh Italian parsley leaves
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

*Roasting Garlic:
1 whole garlic,  with top portion of the crown cut off
.5 tablespoon olive oil
dash of salt

Heat oven to 425 F.
Snip the top of garlic, then drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
Cover with foil and bake 1 hour or until golden brown (soft when pierced with a knife).
To use, remove from the cloves.

Place the beans, roasted garlic, paprika and parsley into a food processor.


Pulse twice to mix the ingredients quickly then turn machine to ON.  Start adding in reserved liquid slowly followed by the olive oil and the lemon juice.  Mix until the mixture is smooth.


Then add in salt and pepper to taste.


I like to serve with a bit of minced parsley on top and a side of warmed pita chips for dipping.



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