Cari and I had set our hearts on making steak burgers using our new KitchenAid meat grinder attachment, but when the skies opened and the rain poured down for most of the day, we decided something that didn’t involve the barbecue would make a lot more sense.
We had remembered the March 2011 issue of Bon Appetit and five indulgent recipes for baked pasta dishes. After perusing them, we decided on the Rigatoni with Eggplant and Pine Nut Crunch. Roast vegetables in the oven, toss them with cooked pasta and a tomato-cream sauce, sprinkle with a dry pesto crumble and a ton of mozzarella, throw it in the oven for half an hour and you are in for a serious treat of a dish.
Rigatoni with Eggplant and Pine Nut Crunch (courtesy of Bon Appetit)
1 unpeeled large eggplant (1 1/2 to 1 3/4 lbs, cut into 1/2-inch cubes)
2 medium yellow bell peppers (cut into 1/2 inch squares)
2 cups grape tomatoes
3 large garlic cloves, divided, divided
1/3 cup olive oil
2 cups (firmly packed) fresh basil leaves, divided
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes in juice
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 pound rigatoni
1 pound whole-milk mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (we used partly skimmed; trust me, it’s still crazy indulgent)
1. Preheat oven to 425F. Spray a large rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray and add eggplant and peppers. Cut tomatoes in half lengthwise and add them to the sheet. Add 1 garlic clove, minced, and olive oil and toss thoroughly. Sprinkle with salt and pepper
2. Roast vegetables in the oven for 35 to 45 minutes, until tender, stirring often
3. Combine 2/3 cup basil, 1/2 cup parmesan, pine nuts and 1 garlic clove in mini processor until crumbly. Add salt.
4. Blend tomatoes with juice, cream, 1 1/3 cups basil and 1 garlic clove until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.
5. Cook pasta in pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite. After draining, return to pot and toss with vegetables, sauce and 1/2 cup parmesan.
6. Transfer to 13x9x2 inch baking dish. Sprinkle with mozzarella cubes and pine nut topping.
7. Bake pasta until heated through, 25 to 35 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes and serve.