Monday, April 16

Traditional Italian Baked Pasta

In the US, we tend to think of baked pasta as a dish containing sauce, ricotta, and pasta-topped with mozzarella and baked. In Italy baked pastas are a comfort foods. Families incorporate seasonal favorites, herbs, and pasta into casserole style dishes and bake until golden and bubbly. They tend to be lighter on the sauce and cheese, focusing more on the process behind making every ingredient stand out.

Although, slightly labor intensive, a traditional baked pasta can always wow a crowd or company. There are a few shortcuts you can take when making this dish, but I would recommend trying it the slow cooked way-at least once.

This will serve 4-6
Time saver full time: 45 minutes Full traditional time: 2 hours
You will need:

3-4 garlic cloves, oil poached and sliced fine *time saver use 1 tsp minced garlic
1 large eggplant, sliced-roasted and diced roughly
1 small bunch basil, chopped roughly
2 lbs plum tomatoes, blanched and peeled *time saver use 28oz can whole peeled tomatoes
1 lb. rigatoni, cooked and cooled to room temperature
2 cups ricotta cheese
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground white pepper

Let us begin:

Preheat oven to 350

Once all your base ingredients are ready you can build your dish

In a large casserole or baking dish place your cooked and cooled pasta. Add in the tomatoes squishing them as you go, you want them to be broken into larger chunks
Add in the chopped eggplant
Add in basil and garlic
Add in salt, pepper, and ricotta. Stir with hangs gently to mix well
Top with Parmesan cheese
Bake in oven for 30 minutes or until pasta is warmed through and a light golden color has developed
Once out of oven, drizzle olive oil over the top and serve