One of my favorite dishes to make for my family is this baked pasta dish, with all its cheesy goodness and hidden bits of sweet eggplant. Picky eaters of all ages – and devout meat eaters, too – love this dish.
Olive oil spray
1 cup fat-free ricotta cheese (8 oz)
2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (8 oz), divided use
1⁄2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese, divided
1⁄4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon olive oil 4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes (16 oz)
2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided use
Freshly ground black pepper
3 1⁄2 cups canned crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
12 ounces uncooked penne rigate pasta
Preheat the oven to 375˚ F. Spray a 9×13-inch baking dish with olive oil.
In medium bowl, combine ricotta, 1 cup of mozzarella, 6 tbsp of Romano, and parsley.
In large, deep skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until golden, about 1 minute.
Add eggplant, 3⁄4 teaspoon of the salt, and black pepper to skillet, and cook until golden, 4 to 5 minutes.
Add tomatoes, basil, 1⁄4 teaspoon of the salt, and black pepper to skillet, reduce heat to low, and cook until eggplant is tender, about 5 minutes.
Add remaining 1 teaspoon salt to large pot of boiling water. Add pasta and cook to 4 minutes less than al dente. Drain.
Put half of pasta in prepared dish and top with one-third of sauce. Spoon ricotta mixture on top. Cover with remaining pasta and sauce. Top with remaining 1 cup mozzarella and 2 tablespoons Romano. Cover with foil.
Bake 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake until mozzarella is melted and edges are lightly browned, 6 to 7 minutes.
TO FREEZE AHEAD:
To freeze, let pasta cool then divide into portions. Wrap portions in plastic wrap and place them in large freezer bag. The day before eating, transfer piece to refrigerator to thaw overnight.
Makes 8 servings
Per serving (about 1 1/2 cups): 325 calories, 9g fat, 0g saturated fat, 20 mg cholesterol, 44g carbohydrate, 4.5g fiber, 18g protein, 6g sugars, 716mg sodium