Eggplant Marinara Pasta Casserole

At this time of year, with lots of fresh produce available (especially eggplant!), this is the perfect comfort food. It doesn’t take too much work, and it has lots of flavor. Enjoy!

Eggplant Marinara Pasta Casserole
Adapted from Cooking Light, Aug 2008
Serves 8

Ingredients:
6 cups (1/2-inch) cubed eggplant (about 1 pound)
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
Cooking spray
1 ounce capocollo, chopped
2 cups thinly sliced onion
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
16 ounces uncooked whole wheat penne (tube-shaped pasta)
2 ounces shredded fontina-asiago cheese
1 ounce panko (about 1/2 cup)

Directions:
1. Arrange eggplant on a mesh tray. Sprinkle eggplant with 1 teaspoon kosher salt; let stand 15 minutes. Pat dry with paper towels.

2. Preheat oven to 450°.

3. Arrange eggplant in a single layer on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 450° for 30 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring after 15 minutes. Remove from baking sheet; cool.

4. Cook capocollo in a Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp. Add onion, oil, and garlic to pan; cook 6 minutes or until onion is lightly browned, stirring frequently. Add wine to pan; cook until liquid evaporates, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Stir in basil, oregano, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper, and diced tomatoes. Bring to a simmer over medium heat; partially cover and cook 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; stir in eggplant.

5. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain pasta in a colander over a bowl, reserving 1/4 cup cooking water. Add pasta and reserved 1/4 cup cooking water to tomato mixture; stir well. Spoon pasta mixture into a 13 x 9–inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle evenly with fontina-asiago cheese.

6. Sprinkle panko evenly over fontina. Spritz with olive oil (I use my misto).

7. Bake at 450° for 12 minutes or until cheese melts and begins to brown.

Nutritional info:
Calories: 297.2
Total Fat: 5.8 g
Saturated Fat: 1.9 g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.3 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 1.9 g
Cholesterol: 11.5 mg
Sodium: 511.8 mg
Potassium: 200.6 mg
Total Carbohydrate: 55.1 g
Dietary Fiber: 9.0 g
Sugars: 3.4 g
Protein: 11.0 g

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