Timbale of Pasta Margherita

Cooking With Nick Stellino
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Ingredients:

2 (1 1/2 pound) eggplants
2 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons olive oil
3 quarts water
1 pound pasta-penne or rigatoni
6 garlic cloves, thickly sliced
2 cups sliced leeks, white part only (4 leeks)
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 (14 1/2 ounce) cans Italian stewed tomatoes, drained, chopped and juices reserved seperately
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1/3 cup Italian Bread Crumbs (see page 230)
16 ounces grated mozzarella cheese (4 cups)
1 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
Serves 8 To 10
Printable Version
Slice the eggplants lengthwise into thin slices. Sprinkle with 1 1/2 teaspoons of the salt and lay the slices on toop of one another in a large colander. Place a dish on top and weight it down (2 large cans of tomatoes work well). Drain for 20 minutes and pat dry with paper towels.
Preheat the oven to 425 F. Brush a nonstick baking sheet and the eggplant slices with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and cook for 25 minutes, until lightly browend. Set aside.
Bring the water to a boil in a large pot. Heat 3 tablespoons of the remaining oil in a large saute pan set on high heat until sizzling, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic, leeks and red pepper flakes and cook until the garlic begins to brown, about 2 minutes. Stir in the drained tomatoes and cook for 2 minutes. Add the tomato juices, the remaining salt and the pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 4-5 minutes, until the sauce is slightly thickened.
Cook the pasta in the boiling time (the pasta will finish cooking in the oven). Drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Toss the pasta with the sauce and the basil and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Grease a 4 quart ovenproof glass bowl with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and then coat with the bread crumbs. Line the bowl with the roasted eggplant slices, overlapping them slightly. It's okay to have some overhang along the edge of the bowl.
Layer the bowl with one-third of the pasta mixture, 2 cups of the mozzarella cheese and 1/2 cup of the Romano cheese.
Repeat the layer once more, then finish with the remaining pasta. Fold any overhanging eggplanct over the top of the pasta, then top with more eggplant slices to cover. Cover the bowl with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let sit for 10 minutes. Invert the pasta onto a serving platter, cut into wedges and serve family style.
Wine Suggestion - Merlot
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