A generous amount of a creamy tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, parmigiano, and a bread crumb topping make this baked pasta one everyone in the family will like. I’ve used roasted eggplant as the main addition here, but a combination of roasted eggplant, peppers, and mushrooms (or your choice of other roasted vegetables) would also be nice, or you could substitute cooked sausage for some of the eggplant. The veggie version would also make a good side for roasted sausages. Serve with a green salad.

Susie Middleton

Serves 4

  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, more for pan
  • 1 medium eggplant (12-14 ounces), cut into medium dice
  • Kosher salt
  • ¾ cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • ¾ cup coarsely grated Parmigiano Regianno
  • 1 ½ cups canned crushed tomatoes
  • 3/4  cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • ½ pound (8 ounces) medium shaped pasta of your choice (I like gemelli) 
  • ½ pound (8 ounces) diced fresh mozzarella 
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons combination chopped fresh mint and basil

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Rub a 2-quart shallow gratin or other similar-sized baking dish with olive oil. Line a heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Toss the diced eggplant with 2 tablespoons olive oil and ½ teaspoon salt. Spread on the baking sheet and roast, flipping or stirring once, until browned and tender, about 25 minutes.

3. Combine the crushed tomatoes, the heavy cream, and the balsamic vinegar in a mixing bowl. Combine the breadcrumbs with half of the Parmigiano and 2 teaspoons olive oil.

4. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta until al dente, according to the package instructions.  Drain the pasta well in a colander and transfer it to the bowl of tomatoes and cream. Sprinkle it with 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of fresh pepper. Add the mozzarella, the other half of the Parmigiano, the herbs, and the eggplant to the bowl. Stir well and transfer everything to the baking dish, spreading it in an even layer. Top with the Parmigiano-bread crumb mixture.

5. Bake until brown and bubbly, about 20 minutes.  Let cool for a few minutes and serve hot.