This month, my partner for the Secret Recipe Club was Isabelle of Crumb Blog. I definitely had a hard time picking which of her delicious recipes I was going to try, but eventually I decided on this fantastic baked pasta dish. It really does mimic the flavors of Eggplant Parmesan, but it's far easier to make - no breading or frying in sight! A richly flavored eggplant and tomato sauce is stirred together with parboiled pasta and then layered under gooey fresh mozzarella and nutty Parmesan cheese. All the flavors combine perfectly to create a satisfying and filling pasta dish that's perfect for chilly fall weather. The only change I might make would be to make this in a deeper dish next time as some of the edges didn't quite get covered in sauce.
Eggplant Parmesan Pasta Bake (adapted from Crumb Blog, original recipe here)
1/2 medium globe eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 scant tsp salt
Vegetable oil, for the pan
1 small onion, minced
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/2 pound pasta
14-ounce can of whole tomatoes, roughly chopped, with juices
1/4 cup red wine
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried basil
Generous pinch red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper
About 1/3-pound fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1. Place the eggplant in a collander and sprinkle with the salt. Toss, and let sit 20 minutes to drain.
2. Put water on to boil (for the pasta). Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and oil a 2-quart baking pan
3. Heat some oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and golden brown.
4. Rinse off the eggplant under cold water and pat dry with a paper towel. Add to the onion and garlic, adding more oil if necessary, and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10-12 minutes or until softened.
5. Add the tomatoes with their juices, the red wine, oregano, basil, and red pepper flakes to the eggplant mixture. Cook uncovered for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
6. Meanwhile, cook the pasta until just shy of al dente (about 6-7 minutes) and drain.
7. Taste the sauce and add salt and/or pepper as needed. Add the pasta and stir to combine well. Pour into the prepared baking dish.
8. Distribute the sliced mozzarella cheese evenly over the pasta, and then sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese.
9. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is starting to brown. Let sit for about 5 minutes before serving.