Baked pasta with eggplant is a rich, healthy, and delicious twist on the Italian pasta. This dish is made from roasted eggplants, cherry tomatoes, and onions. Drenched in rich tomatoey pasta sauce and topped with an oozy and stringy bed of mozzarella cheese, this pasta dish is utterly satisfying, comforting, and a perfect lunch or dinner option. Whether it is a weekday dinner or a date night, you can serve with a dish with a glass of wine and enjoy every bite with your loved ones.
Here is a list of all the ingredients you need for this tasty pasta recipe:
- Pasta: The main ingredient of this dish is pasta. You can use pre-made pasta of any shape. I prefer using penne or rigatoni. You can use whole wheat pasta as well. Plus, if you prefer using homemade pasta, go for it!
- Eggplant: The next main ingredient is eggplant. Eggplant is known for its many benefits. It has a slightly sweet flavor and a tender texture. Its flavor resembles butternut squash a lot as well.
- Olive oil: Olive oil is jam-packed with healthy fats. You can use avocado oil as well.
- Yellow onion: Yellow onions have a savory and slightly sweet flavor. If you don’t have yellow onions, you can use red onions as well.
- Garlic: It adds a unique deep flavor to the dish.
- Pasta sauce: Pasta sauce is very easy to find. It is made from tomatoes and herbs. You can easily buy pre-made pasta sauce from any grocery store. In fact, different brands offer different flavors and ingredients. You can choose the one you love the most. Moreover, you can make the pasta sauce at home as well.
- Mozzarella cheese: Mozzarella cheese has a delicate flavor. It is most widely used and loved because of its stringy texture. You can use shredded mozzarella or mozzarella balls as well. If you are making a vegan version, use non-dairy cheese instead of dairy mozzarella.
- Cherry tomatoes: Cherry tomatoes are juicy, slightly sweet, and offer a burst of tomatoey flavor. You can use regular tomatoes instead of cherry tomatoes as well.
- Basil leaves: Fresh basil leaves are a perfect garnish for this baked pasta dish. However, you can use parsley or cilantro as well.
How to make baked pasta with eggplant
Making baked pasta with eggplant is way too easy. The process is fairly straightforward. you can prepare the dish in three main steps. These are:
Step 1: Start by dicing the eggplant and onion. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half. Season the vegetables with salt and drizzle olive oil on top.
Step 2: Mix well and place them on a baking tray. Bake at 425 degrees F for about 30 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked.
Step 3: Meanwhile, cook the pasta. You can follow the instructions on the pack. Make sure you cook it until al Dante. Drain, rinse with cold water, and set aside. Once the pasta and vegetables are cooked, place them in a casserole dish. Make sure it is oven safe.
STEP 4: Now, pour pasta sauce on top of the vegetables as much as you like. It should form a layer.
STEP 5: Lastly, top it up with shredded mozzarella as much as you like. The more, the merrier! Finish it off with chopped fresh basil leaves.
STEP 6: Bake for about 5 to 7 minutes until the cheese is bubbling and gets a golden color. Serve!
Can you make pasta sauce at home?
You can easily buy pre-made pasta sauce from any grocery store. Different brands offer high-quality products. However, nothing can beat homemade pasta sauce. That’s because it is tasteful, you can adjust it according to your liking, it’s fresh, and above all, it is pocket-friendly. You can make it in a large batch and store it for later use. Homemade pasta sauce can last for up to 3 months.
Making pasta sauce at home is the easiest thing ever. All you have to do is sauté chopped onions and garlic in olive oil. Once they are tender, add canned tomatoes, red chili flakes, dried herbs, sugar salt, and black pepper. Add a small amount of water and let it simmer on low heat until you get a smooth tomatoey sauce of perfect consistency. Store in sterilized glass jars and preserve.
Tips for making baked pasta with eggplants
Making baked pasta with eggplants is very easy. However, a few tricks up your sleeve add more flavor to the dish. Here are a few tips for you to get the best results:
- When chopping vegetables, make sure you dice them evenly. This way, they will cook evenly.
- Keep the eggplants large in size as they tend to shrink after being roasted.
- Read the instructions when cooking pasta. Once you drain it, run cold water over it to stop the cooking process.
- For more flavor and color, add baby spinach leaves to the pasta before baking it.
- You can use a combination of cheese as well. Parmesan cheese is also a good option.
- You can use marinara sauce instead of pasta sauce as well.
How to store baked pasta with eggplants?
You can easily store the leftover baked pasta. Once it is cool, place it in an airtight container and refrigerate. It will last for up to 3 days. You can reheat it in the microwave and enjoy it. Moreover, you can store the ingredients separately as well. Assemble and bake before serving.
Most people wonder if you can freeze this dish or not. I prefer you don’t freeze it after baking. That’s because once you defrost it, the dish will become watery, and it will ruin its texture. Instead, you can freeze all the elements separately. You can freeze pasta and roasted vegetables in a separate freezer-safe container. Furthermore, you can also freeze the pasta sauce. Thaw the ingredients, assemble them, bake them and enjoy. The ingredients can’t stay frozen for up to a month in the freezer.
Baked Pasta with Eggplant Recipe
- 250 g pasta penne or rigatoni
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium eggplant chopped
- 1 small yellow onion diced
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 ½ cup pasta sauce
- 6 fresh basil leaves chopped
- ¼ cup mozzarella cheese
- ½ tsp salt
- Wash the eggplant, remove the crown and dice it into even pieces. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half as well.
- In a bowl, add diced onions, garlic, eggplants, and cherry tomatoes. Drizzle olive oil on top and season with salt. Place the vegetables in a baking tray.
- Place the baking tray in a preheated oven for about 30 minutes at 425-degree F.In the meanwhile, boil water and add pasta. Cook the pasta until al Dante. Drain the pasta, run cold water over it and set it aside.
- Once the vegetables are cooked, take the tray out of the oven and add them to an oven-safe casserole dish. Add cooked pasta and mix well.
- Add pasta sauce until all the ingredients are coated, and the sauce makes a layer. Top it up with shredded cheese and chopped basil.
- Place the casserole dish in a preheated oven for about 5 to 7 minutes until the cheese melts and gets a golden color.
- Take the dish out of the oven and serve.