Baked Rigatoni alla Norma – adapted from Gourmet magazine
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.