Baked pastas are so great because the flavors really get into the pasta and everything comes together. And it’s even better reheated the next day. This is a great vegetarian dinner too, because the eggplant is meaty and combined with a salad, it’s a perfect meal.
Eggplant Pasta Al Forno
1 pound of short pasta, such as penne, fusilli, etc
1 medium sized eggplant, cut into 3/4″ rounds
2 cups basic tomato sauce, homemade or your favorite simple bottled brand
1 cup breadcrumbs (preferably homemade)
1 tablespoon chopped thyme
1 cup grated mozzarella
1 cup grated fontina
1/2 cup grated parmesan
Saute the eggplant slices in a couple tablespoons of olive oil a few minutes on each side, until they start to brown. You may need to add more olive oil for each batch, but be careful not to add too much because eggplant acts like a sponge and will soak the oil up and release it as it bakes, making the final dish greasy.
Meanwhile, heat your tomato sauce if you have not just made it. Cook the pasta in salted water for half the cooking time on the package. It will still be chewy, but it will continue to cook in the oven. Combine the cheeses together in a small bowl.
Spoon a light layer of sauce on the bottom of a baking dish, so that it won’t stick. Toss the rest of the sauce with the pasta. Cover the bottom with a layer of eggplant and then a layer of pasta. Sprinkle some thyme and some of the cheeses over the top. continue with these layers until you reach the top of the dish. The last layer should be eggplant with the remaining cheese sprinkled over the top along with the breadcrumbs.
Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes, or until the top starts to brown and bubble. Let cool a little before serving.