Baked Pasta with Eggplant Sauce

Pasta al Forno con il Sugo di Salsiccie e Melanzane

Cooking With Nick Stellino
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Ingredients:

6 Tablespoons Olive Oil
6 large Garlic cloves, thickly sliced
½ teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
1 medium Eggplant (1 pound) cut into ½" cubes
½ pound Smoked Mozzarella cheese (Scamorza) or Fresh Mozzarella cheese, cut into ¼" cubes
½ cup freshly grated Romano cheese (2 oz.)
1 pound Italian Style Sausages, cut into ½ " pieces
½ cup Red Wine
1 ½ cups Tomato Sauce
1 cup Beef Stock
½ teaspoon Salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper
½ cup Italian style Breadcrumbs
1 pound Dry Pasta (Ziti, Penne or Small Shells)

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Serves 6
Printable Version
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
Brush or spray a lasagna pan or a baking dish (9"x 13") with olive oil and coat with half of the Italian style breadcrumbs.
Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan or skillet and cook the garlic and red pepper flakes until the garlic is lightly browned, about 1 minute. Fry the diced eggplant in two batches in the olive oil and garlic, until it is brown on all sides, about 4 minutes. Remove the eggplant and garlic onto a plate or bowl and keep warm. In the same skillet, brown the sausage pieces. Pour on the wine, stirring to dislodge any flavorful brown bits than may stick to the bottom of the pan. Reduce the liquid by half, simmering for about 2 minutes. Return the eggplant to the pan and add the beef stock, tomato sauce, salt and pepper. Bring the sauce to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally until it is a nice, rich sauce, about 15 minutes.
While the sauce simmers, cook the pasta in the boiling water according to the directions on the package. Drain and return to the empty pot. Pour on the sauce and toss together with the diced Scamorza and half of the Romano cheese. Spoon the pasta mixture into the prepared pan. Sprinkle with the remaining Romano cheese and breadcrumbs. Bake the pasta in the preheated oven until it forms a lovely brown crust on top, about 20 minutes. Serve hot.
Chef's Note:
It is better to undercook rather than overcook the pasta for this dish as it will continue to cook in the oven.
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