Baked Rigatoni alla Norma

Baked Rigatoni alla Norma – adapted from Gourmet magazine

by Jennifer

Not only is this delicious and kid-friendly, depending on who your company is, but you can assemble it earlier in the day and refrigerate it;  add about 10 minutes more to your baking time, or until it’s heated through and the cheese is melted and browned in spots.

Serves 6 – 8.

  •  2 lbs. eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 24 – 26 oz. jar marinara sauce
  • 1 lb. rigatoni
  • 1 lb. fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

Toss the eggplant and salt together in a colander;  let sit in the sink for 30 minutes.  Rinse the eggplant, drain, and dry well in a kitchen towel.  Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-hight heat.

When the oil starts to shimmer, fry the eggplant, in three batches, until golden brown, about 5 minutes per batch.  Transfer the fried eggplant to paper towels to drain.  Discard all but about 2 TBS of the oil in the skillet.

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the rigatoni until al dente;  drain.

Heat the remaining oil over medium heat and cook the onion until golden brown, about 8 minutes.

Add the marinara sauce and eggplant and simmer for 5 minutes.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine the sauce, pasta and half of the mozzarella in the now empty pasta pot.  Spoon pasta mixture into a large baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella.

Bake for 45 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and browned in spots.  Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

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