Friday, July 2, 2010

Eggplant and Sausage Pasta Bake

I love eggplant but I was getting a little tired of eggplant parmesan and I needed something easy to feed a crowd one night. That is how this dish was born. Sautéed eggplant combined with sweet Italian sausage, pasta and fresh mozzarella cheese are combined with tomato sauce and baked together for a delectable dish. It's simple to throw together even though it has a few steps to get it going. It's a great comfort food and perfect for when company is coming over because one pan will fill the bellies of many. Serve it with some garlic bread and a garden salad to complete the meal.
What You Need:

6 links of Italian sausage (about 1lb)
1 large eggplant, (about 1 1/2lbs) cut into 1 inch cubes
1lb of tube shaped pasta such as penne or rigatoni
1 (28oz) can of crushed tomatoes
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic minced
1 tsp dried oregano
1lb of fresh mozzarella cheese
Veg oil
salt and pepper

What To Do:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta according to package directions and your liking.
Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan, brown the eggplant in veg oil, working in batches if needed so that the pan isn't over crowded. Remove to paper toweling to drain an excess oil and season with a sprinkle of salt.
In the same pan, brown the sausage, making sure to cook it almost all the way through. When done, set aside to cool for a bit. 
Again, the in the same pan, sauté the onion and garlic, adding in more oil if needed. Once the onion is soft add in the crushed tomatoes and oregano. Season with salt and pepper and let simmer for about 15 minutes to make a sauce.

While the sauce is simmering, slice the sausage into bite sized pieces. Cut 2/3 of the mozzarella into cubes, and thinly slice the rest, setting it all aside for later.
In a large bowl, combine the pasta, sauce, eggplant, sausage and cubed mozzarella, mixing it well so that everything is even distributed. 

Place into a 13x9 pan and top with the slices of mozzarella. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes or until hot and bubbly and the cheese has melted.

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