Monday, September 14, 2009

Eggplant Timbale ... not really

I grilled an eggplant last week and didn't put anything on it except a little oil and salt, and it tasted so good. I hear they're in season now, so that probably had a lot to do with it, I'm sure. So I wanted to try another eggplant recipe and saw Giada De Laurentiis do this on television. It's kind of a drum made of eggplant and filled with pasta, cheese, and peas. Besides halving ingredients to serve just the two of us, my major adjustments were leaving out the meat, of course, and making this in a casserole dish. I don't have a springform pan. I think the springform could make for more attractive presentation but somebody will have to convince me it changes the taste.

1 eggplant, sliced lengthwise about 1/4-inch thick
Olive oil, salt, and pepper for grilling and seasoning the eggplant
1/3 pound pasta -- I used rotini
1/2 onion
1/2 cup frozen green peas, thawed
1/2 cup quartered mushrooms
1-1/2 cup jarred pasta sauce
3/4 cup diced mozzarella, she suggests smoke mozzarella
1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves

Grill the eggplant. I used a grill pan, which I love because I feel like it's so much easier to clean and control than my outside grill, especially for veggies. I grilled all my veggies, including the onion and mushrooms. I know I use a lot of mushrooms, but they're just so tasty and go really well with pasta. Salt and pepper the veggies.

Boil the pasta; if you want to try my new-found green method, it's now tried and true.

Cube the mozzarella. If I were to do this again, I'd use shredded mozzarella, but I guess that's the trade-off for smokey flavor. When we were eating this, there were cheese patches. Now, I'm not saying that's unpleasant, and this way would be easier to defend if the cheese inspector stops by.

Mix the veggies (minus eggplant!), sauce, mozzarella, the Parmesan, and basil together. Line a pan with the eggplant, then top with the pasta mix. If you have some extra eggplant slices, place them on top to keep your pasta from drying out. If you don't have extra eggplant, consider topping with foil. I guess the other option would be to put the pasta on the bottom, then top with eggplant. Still not sure I'd do it that way, either.

Bake at 350F for 30-40 minutes, then let rest for at least 10 minutes.

This was really good. We both liked the peas in the mix, but I might also consider using spinach as well. I like my peas with potatoes and my pasta sauce with spinach.

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