Saturday, February 13, 2016

Cheesy Baked Penne with Eggplant

I'm on vacation!!!  I could not be happier to have a whole week stretching ahead of me to do whatever I want to with!  I can sleep till noon (well, after I let Daisy out around 7 and then go back to bed!) and shower at 2:00 and bake cookies at midnight if I want to.  And I want to do all of these things.  I want to make interesting things for dinner and maybe some normal things too.  I am just feeling quite content today as I sit under my heated blanket with Delilah (she's here for the weekend) and Poppy next to me, Daisy at my feet.  What more can a girl ask for?

Speaking of things that are comforting and great: this pasta dish.  Believe it or not, it's from my Skinny Taste cookbook.  It's actually only 325 calories for a 1 1/2 cup serving!  And trust me, it doesn't taste healthy.  It is cheesy and decadent and full of gorgeous chunks of eggplant, dollops of ricotta mixed with super flavorful Romano, mozzarella and parsley, and a quick homemade sauce flavored with garlic and basil.  Definitely a winner.  It's comfort food but could be "fancy" enough to serve when you have company.  Plus it reheats pretty well and could be frozen (if you don't eat it all).


cheesy baked penne with eggplant
from Skinny Taste Cookbook by Gina Homolka
serves 8

olive oil
1 cup fat-free ricotta cheese
2 cups part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese, divided
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
freshly ground black pepper
3 1/2 cups canned crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons chopped basil
12 ounces penne rigate pasta (use whole what, regular, or gluten-free depending on your diet!)


1) Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Spray a 9x13-inch baking dish with oil.

2) In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, 1 cup of the mozzarella, 6 tablespoons of the Romano, and the parsley.

3) In a large, deep skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until golden, about 1 minute.  Add the eggplant, 3/4 teaspoon of the salt, and black pepper and cook until golden, 4 - 5 minutes.  Add the tomatoes, basil, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and black pepper to taste.  Reduce the heat to low and cook until the eggplant is tender, about 5 minutes.

4) Add the remaining 1 teaspoon salt to a large pot of boiling water.  Add the pasta and cook to 4 minutes less than al dente.  Drain, and put half of the pasta into the prepared dish. Top with one third of the sauce.  Top with remaining pasta and sauce.  Top with remaining 1 cup mozzarella and 2 tablespoons Romano.  Cover with foil.

5) Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake until the mozzarella is melted and the edges are lightly browned, 6-7 minutes.

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