RECIPE: Baked Rigatoni with Garden Eggplant and Zucchini
Between my parents, neighbors and my own garden, I am getting quite an influx of fresh vegetables piling up in the kitchen. And as you well know, home grown vegetables are the best around, and you need to use 'em or lose 'em! Here was a great pasta bake I made last Sunday using fresh eggplant, tomatoes, zucchini and basil. We were able to make a dent in our stockpile and have an amazing meal. This recipe was a little time consuming, but I think you can do a couple of steps ahead of time to cut down on the effort the day of serving. You can pre-roast your vegetables and refrigerate them a couple days in advance, and you can peel your tomatoes and store as well. Also, you can go ahead and make the sauce a couple days in advance, too. The only thing I would say is you would have to add ten minutes or so to baking time to allot for the chilled ingredients.
Baked Rigatoni with Garden Eggplant and Zucchini
1 1/2-2 lbs combined of zucchini, eggplants or other squash, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
3/4 tsp sea salt
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
28 oz. various medium sized, ripe tomatoes or (1 can 28 oz. plum tomatoes)
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1 chicken bouillon cube dissolved in 3/4 cup hot water
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
1 package (16 oz.) whole wheat rigatoni
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 Tbsp. chopped basil
Preheat oven to 450˚. In large bowl, toss eggplant, 2 tablespoon olive oil, sea salt and zucchini. In a baking pan lined with a foil, layer the vegetables in an even layer. Roast the vegetables for about 30 minutes, switching racks midway for the vegetables to cook evenly. Avoid mixing them with a spoon because it bruises and mushes the vegetables. It also prevents the nice caramelization on the vegetables to happen evenly. I move them around only once, gently, when I switch racks from middle to top. Remove pans from oven, let cool and set aside.
Cleaning Fresh Tomatoes:
Cleaning Fresh Tomatoes:
First, peel and deseed the tomatoes. Do this by making a small incision in the skin on each tomato. Mean while, boil a large pot of water. Bring to simmer, and dunk the tomatoes in the water and let sit for 5 minutes. You will see the skin begin to peel back. In a separate bowl, fill with ice water. Strain the tomatoes, and dunk them in the cold water. The coolness will help contract the fruit away from the skin and allow them to be cool enough to handle. Let them sit in the water for 5 minutes, adding more ice if needed. Strain again, and carefully peel the skin off the tomatoes. When done, it is time to deseed them. With your hands, puncture the middle and tear open the tomato, and empty the seeds in each "pod". Put the empty tomato aside, and continue along for all the fruit. Now you have fresh tomatoes ready to use in recipes.
With the tomatoes, crush them with your hand until broken up and "mushed". Now, in a 3 qt. saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and add garlic and onion and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.
Lower the heat and add in all the tomatoes and their juices, tomato paste, pepper, salt, breaking up the tomatoes with the back of your spoon as you stir.
Let simmer for 5 minutes, then add the bouillon, and stir. Heat to boiling than simmer for 20 minutes, or until sauce is thickened. Add basil for the last 10 minutes of cooking. Set aside.
Pasta and Assembly:
Preheat oven to 450˚. Cook pasta according to package directions, and drain. Return to the sauce pot. Add the roasted vegetables to the pasta and toss. Add the tomato sauce and half the Parmesan cheese and toss. Butter a 12 x 9 Pyrex pan and pour the pasta mixture evenly into the pan. In a small bowl, mix the ricotta with the rest of the Parmesan. Using a spoon and your fingers, add the dollops of cheese on top and nestled into the pasta. Sprinkle with the chopped basil, and cover with tin foil. Bake the pasta for 30 minutes until hot and cheese is melting and bubbly. Uncover for the last 5 minutes. Let sit for 10 minutes and serve with extra Parmesan.