Sunday, October 31, 2010

Rigatoni with eggplant & sausage - week 43 of 52

Hi everyone! Have been traveling lots in the last couple of weeks (work) and am going away again next week. This weekend the fall chill is really starting to set in, so I wanted to make something hearty, and easy.

I brought my trusty Tyler Florence book and found this recipe. I’ve recently started enjoying eggplant, so this seemed like an easy way to throw into a dish (and who doesn’t like a dish that has a 1pound of mozzarella cheese?)

I shared this with my friends and they liked it! Needed a little bit of salt (probably in the tomato sauce), but otherwise, it was a great hearty dish for the chilly fall days. I would boil the tomato sauce for about 25 minutes so it gets thick and also, I would use a little less pasta than suggested. The best were the bits of pasta with the crunchy parmesan cheese that had crisped up a little!

This is a make again – I really enjoyed it!

Bon appetit!

Bake Rigatoni with Eggplant & Sausage – courtesy of Tyler Florence
Rating (out of 5) ****
Cost $$
Ingredients – serves 6-8

• Kosher Salt
• Extra-virgin olive oil
• 6 links fennel pork sausage (about 3/4 pound)
• 1 large eggplant (about 1 1/2 pounds), cut into 1-inch pieces
• 1 large onion, chopped
• 3 garlic cloves, chopped
• 1 large can (28 ounces) peeled whole tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
• Leaves from 1 small bunch basil
• 1 pound rigatoni
• 1 pound fresh mozzarella
• Freshly ground black pepper
• 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat for the pasta. Get yourself a 9 by 13-inch glass or ceramic baking dish.
Heat a 2 count of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausages and toss in the hot oil for 3 to 4 minutes, you want them nicely browned on the outside but still rare on the inside. Put the sausages in the baking dish.

Turn the heat down to medium. Add a generous 1/3 cup of oil to the skillet and get it hot. Add as many eggplant pieces as you can comfortably fit in a single layer and sprinkle well with salt. Cook, turning, for 7 to 8 minutes, until the eggplant is nice and browned, crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. Use a spatula to put the eggplant into the baking dish with the sausage. Cook the rest of the eggplant pieces, adding more oil to the pan, as needed, and putting the finished eggplant into the baking dish.

Add another 2 count of oil to the skillet, then your onion and garlic, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until translucent. Dump the whole can of tomatoes and their juices into a bowl and crush the tomatoes with your hands to break them up; add that to the pan with the basil and cook it down until pulpy and relatively thick. This will take about 15 minutes.

By this time your pasta water will be boiling. Add the rigatoni, give it a stir, and cook for 6 to 7 minutes, it should be slightly firm as it will cook further in the oven. Ladle out 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water and reserve; the drain the rigatoni.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Chop the sausages into nice big, bite-size chunky pieces and return the pieces to the baking dish. Add the tomato sauce, rigatoni, and the reserved pasta water. Break up half the mozzarella over the mixture, season with salt and pepper, and gently mix with your hands or a spatula. Dust with the Parmigiano and drizzle with more olive oil. Bake for 15 minutes. Spread the remaining mozzarella in an even layer over the top and continue to bake for another 10 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly.

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