Pasta-stuffed eggplant recipe
STEPS 6 INGREDIENTS 10 TIME 50-60 MINS
Before she taught me this stuffed eggplant recipe, Mamma Marisa experimented with its sauce a couple of times as she wanted this to be a perfect match for the taste of soft-fried eggplant (AKA aubergine).
The result? As is often the case, a rich Italian tomato sauce just can't be beat.
As for the rest of the stuffing, this eggplant recipe does, in fact, adopt quite a different approach to normal. Instead of chopping and frying the eggplant's flesh and then combining these sweet cubes with breadcrumbs, capers and whatever else is in the fridge, this stuffed eggplant dish doesn't use these innards at all.
Instead we pack our aubergine halves full of pre-cooked short pasta shapes, smothered in our tomato sauce and topped off with mouth-watering melted mozzarella.
You're dribbling just thinking about it, right?
Sure, this dish takes a little longer than a normal pasta-n-sauce style dish. However it's worth the effort as it makes a great alternative pasta dinner and will certainly interest any dinner guests you have coming over.
What's more, depending on the size of the eggplants you are stuffing, you may even have some cooked pasta left over for lunch tomorrow!
Let's make it...
One 400g/14oz can of plum tomatoes
3 medium eggplants/aubergines
250g/9oz short pasta (penne/cassarecce etc.)
10 fresh basil leaves
Frying oil (vegetable/sunflower)
One 200g/7oz ball of mozzarella cheese
Chunk of hard parmesan cheese (to grate)
Extra virgin olive oil
STEP 1 - First we will get the tomato sauce cooking.
- Chop the onion finely.
- Cover half the base of a frying pan with olive oil, place on medium heat, and drop in the onion.
- When softened and slightly browned (5-7 mins), add the tomatoes and their juice.
- Rinse and tear most of the basil leaves.
- Add one pinch of salt for each plum tomato.
- Stir, cover and fry for 3 mins to soften toms.
- Uncover, break toms with spoon, and leave bubbling away gently for 15-20 mins, stirring occasionally.
- When the sauce is less liquid and loses its sourness, it's ready (take off heat).
STEP 2 - While the tomato sauce simmers, rinse the eggplants and chop away their green ends.
- Cut each eggplant in half longways.
- Chop out the innards of each, leaving a shell roughly 1cm/half-inch thick.
- Drop each hollowed eggplant half in a bowl of salted water while you do the rest.
STEP 3 - Now we cook the eggplants by frying them until soft.
- Rinse the salt off half the eggplants and pat dry with a kitchen towel.
- Fill the bottom of a second frying pan with frying oil (not EVOO) and set on high heat.
- When oil is hot, fill pan with eggplants and fry carefully for 6-7 mins, turning occasionally, until their flesh browns and turns soft.
- Place fried eggplants on plate, open side up, lightly salt and stain/smear a little of the tomato sauce in each.
- Repeat process with remaining eggplants.
STEP 4 - Boil up a large pan of well-salted water and when boiling drop in your pasta.
- Cook as per its packet's timings.
- When done, drain and mix through with sauce.
- Grate in 3 tablespoons or so of parmesan too.
STEP 5 - Now we'll prepare everything for baking.
- Grab a large oven dish and 'stain' the base with a little tomato sauce.
- Pack each eggplant half with pasta and place in the dish.
- Chop the mozzarella into super-thin slices and place on top of each eggplant half.
- Grate over a little extra parmesan.
- Pop in a pre-heated oven (at 180C/350 F) for around 10 minutes, until the mozza has melted all over the pasta.
- Garnish with any remaining basil leaves.
Any pasta left?
Bang it in the fridge for now, then tomorrow lunchtime whisk some eggs and fry everyone together to make a super-filling pasta frittata!
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