This recipe is my version of this great Southern Italian dish, but feel free to experiment according to your tastes; change the meat or omit it for a vegetarian version, use leftover risotto instead of pasta, vary the choice of vegetables, cheeses and flavorings. Whatever you choose to omit or include for a little effort you’ll gain big rewards. Buon Appetito!
Level of difficulty: easy
•12 oz. cooked spinach or arugula
•4 ½ cups cooked macaroni – fusili, penne, farfalle etc.
•4 links fresh Italian sausage, casings removed
•2 cups tomato sauce
•1 small onion diced
•4 cloves garlic chopped
•2 tsp. dried oregano
•1 tsp. dried chili flakes
•Salt and pepper to taste
•3 medium eggplants
•2 large sweet red peppers
•454 g. ricotta cheese or quark, excess water drained
•180 g. bocconcini cheese thinly sliced
•8 oz. grated parmesan
•Cut unpeeled eggplant lengthwise into ¼” thick slices
•Core and trim peppers, cut into eighths and score edges to flatten
•Generously oil one large baking sheet, arrange eggplant slices side by side and brush with more oil, place under broiler until lightly browned, turning over once
•Repeat with remaining eggplant and peppers,( when peppers cool, peel skin).
•In a medium skillet, heat 1 tsp. oil and sauté sausage meat, onion, garlic oregano and chili flakes until meat is done
•With a slotted spoon remove sausage mixture and place in a large mixing bowl
•Add spaghetti sauce and mix well, add cooked pasta and parmesan, stir to combine, taste and adjust seasonings
•Line a deep baking dish – any shape you like – with parchment paper leaving 3”-4” overhang, preheat oven to 425
•Arrange eggplant slices slightly overlapping on bottom and sides to form a casing for the filling, reserving two or three slices for the top
•distribute the pepper strips at intervals around the dish inside the eggplant layer,
•Spoon a layer of pasta on the bottom, add some ricotta, follow with spinach and some bocconcini, repeat layering until all ingredients are used.
•Bring any overlapping slices over the filling and top with reserved eggplant , fold parchment loosely over top
•Place casserole on a baking sheet and bake in middle of oven for 30 mins., cool for 3 mins before turning-out on a platter and slicing to serve.
Complementary Wines: Barbaresco, Cabernet Sauvignon New World, Chianti Classico, Nero D'Avola, Sangiovese
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