Layered Eggplant Pasta Bake

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One pot meals are the answer to everything. Here’s why?

– They bring together the flavours of many ingredients, cooking together in one easy to clean pot or dish.

– They are cover tonight’s dinner and  a few days of leftovers.

– They are freezable.

– They take the stress out of making a side dish.

– They are a great way to use up vegetables and herbs on their last leg in the fridge.

This week I had eggplant that was on its last leg and I had to be creative in finding a way to use them. I also had a fresh marinara sauce that was screaming my name. It’s the weekend and I have time to spend in the kitchen, so I came up with this easy to make layered eggplant pasta bake. The freshness of the marinara sauce, richness of the roasted eggplant and smoothness of the mozzarella cheese leave you satisfied and needing nothing more. Here’s to the simplicity and satisfaction of one pot meals.

Ingredients

2 pounds eggplant, sliced 1/2-inch thick

Sea salt & pepper

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon, plus 2 tablespoons

1 pound penne or other short pasta

2 cups tomato sauce or marinara

1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs

1/3 cup grated parmigiano reggiano or pecorino

4 sprigs fresh basil, roughly torn (or any dry herb can be used as well)

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Place the eggplant slices on a baking tray and using 3 tablespoons of the olive oil brush each side. Season each side with salt and pepper. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the eggplant slices have browned.

Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons salt.

Cook the penne in the boiling water until not quite done; about 5 minutes. Drain the pasta and toss with 3/4 cup of tomato sauce.

Grease a glass or ceramic oven dish with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Cover the bottom of the dish with a few tablespoons of tomato sauce. Top with half the bread crumbs, and salt and pepper, to taste. Add half the cooked pasta, then half of the eggplant slices, arranged in a layer. Drizzle about 1/4 cup of the tomato sauce over, and top with half the grated cheese and torn basil leaves. Repeat the process with remaining tomato sauce, bread crumbs, pasta, eggplant, cheese, and basil.

Drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and bake in oven for 1 hour. Let rest 30 minutes before serving.

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