I have had the esteemed pleasure to cook and review a dish from a legendary and well known cook book author. You know her famous son who assists in judging one of my favorite television shows, Master Chef. This legendary woman has cooked alongside Julia Child and is absolutely fascinating.
Lidia Bastianich is just about to release a new cook book “Lidia’s Favorite Recipes” full of classic Italian dishes common from her hometown and easy to make. I opted to make her Ziti with Roasted Eggplant and Ricotta for a get-together and we all fell in love.
The dish is pretty simple to make and full of intense classic flavors. I did make some minor alterations to the cooking technique, but nothing too major. It yields for 6 servings so I decided to half most of the recipe which still fed a huge crowd, but I’m sure when you decide to check out her book you can follow her recipe to a T and have even more of this delicious pasta dish.
Lidia insists on using San Marzano tomatoes as well as I because we all know they are the best. I drained and roasted the eggplant just as she explains and what emerged was a crisp exterior and soft center. The sauce was just made of the cooked tomatoes and dollops of ricotta cheese. How can you go wrong there? You can’t.
- 1/2 lb ziti or penne
- 1 large eggplant
- 2 garlic cloves sliced
- 1 32 oz can San Marzano whole tomatoes
- 1 cup whole milk ricotta
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/2 cup freshly graped Parmigiano-Reggiano
- Fresh basil shredded
- Olive oil for drizzling
- Salt and pepper to taste
Trim ends off eggplant and peel 1 in sections off skin leaving half of skin intact. Cut into 1 in cubes and sprinkle with 2Tb salt. Dump in colander and allow to drain for 1 hr. Rinse in cool water and pat dry very well.
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees and place eggplant on foil lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat. Bake in oven for about 25 minutes until brown, turning once midway through.
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil for the pasta.
In a separate skillet, heat olive oil and add sliced garlic. Cook until lightly golden, about 3 minutes. Add whole tomatoes, crushing them by hand as you add them in, red pepper flakes and season with salt. Bring sauce to a boil and then reduce for 10 minutes.
When pasta is done, drain and add it back to its pot. Add half of the tomato sauce and roasted eggplant (when done). Add heaping spoonfuls of ricotta and toss lightly to coat. Add basil, Parmigiano cheese and remaining tomato sauce. Taste for seasoning.