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Baked Parmasan Penne with Eggplant

March 2, 2009

I tend to be a procrastinator.  Dinner time rolls around and I don’t feel like spending the rupees to eat out… so I end up scavenging for goods from the pantry, fridge and freezer.  This is how most of my pastas are made.  Sometimes they turn out blah… but every now and then the right ingredients come together and I make something that is half way worth writing down.

– 1 lb of penne or rigatoni pasta

– 1 lb of hot Italian sausage, sliced into large oblong chunks

– 1 eggplant, chopped into 1-inch cubes

– 1 red bell pepper

– 6 cloves of chopped garlic

– 2 tablespoons of of butter

– 2 tablespoons of flour

– 2 pints of milk

– 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese

– 1 cup of grated Parmesan

– 1 table spoon of crushed red pepper flakes

– olive oil, salt and pepper

Set your oven to broil and on a small cookie sheet char your red bell pepper on all sides, rotate frequently. At the same time start boiling your pasta water for the penne and get a large saute pan on medium high heat.  Add a glug of olive oil and brown your chunks of Italian sausage on the cut sides.  This will take about 5 – 7 minutes or so.  Pull sausage and set aside. 

Your pepper should be roasted by this time.  Remove from the oven and set the oven to 450 degrees. Your pasta water should be boiling by now.  Add the pasta along with a pinch of salt and a glug of olive oil.  Cook about 6 minutes until al dente.  Drain and set aside in a colander.

Add eggplant and garlic to the empty hot saute pan that you used for your sausage.  Eggplant (like mushrooms) are the veggie world’s version of sponges.  You will need to add about 1/2 a cup or so of additional olive oil before adding.  sear the eggplant, move them around a bit every so often.  Cook for only about 4 – 5 minutes at most.  Remove garlic and eggplant, set aside.  Chop your roasted red pepper into large pieces – now I don’t fuss around with removing the blackened skin, I just try and keep the seeds out.  Set aside with your sausage and eggplant  

For the bechemel/ cream sauce:  In a small sauce pan over medium heat, add your equal parts butter and flour.  Stir constantly making a light blonde roux.  Next add your milk.  Increase heat to medium-high.  stir occasionally until mixture bubbles.  Then remove from heat.  And stir in about half of your parmasan cheese. 

In a large casserole dish mix together your cooked pasta, sausage, eggplant, garlic, red pepper, mozzarella cheese, crushed red pepper flakes.  Pour your bechemel cream sauce evenly over the top of everything.  Add salt and pepper, and top with the remainder of your Parmesan cheese.  Bake in your oven until the Parmesan gets a nice golden brown crust on top.  This will take about 15 minutes or so at 450 degrees. 

Serve with some toasted garlic bread and enjoy.

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