So, after totally e-stalking Valerie Frankel, the author of Thin is the New Happy (which I highly recommend) I happened upon this recipe on her blog. In a word: amazing. Another word comes to mind as well: time consuming. (Well, I guess that's two words. But, let's not split hairs, shall we?)
1 eggplant, 1/4 inch thick slices
3 zukes, 1/4 inch thick slices
3 yellow squash, 1/4 inch thick slices
1 onion, chopped
3 tomatoes sliced thin
1 lb whole wheat rigatoni
1 24 oz jar of marinara sauce (or make your own)
16 oz. whole milk mozzarella
8 oz. shredded parmesan
2 cups bread crumbs
2 tbsp of chopped fresh oregano and/or basil
Some people (including me) like to sweat eggplant and squash before cooking. For a baked dish, you don't want the veggies to be too wet, so I recommend this extra step. An hour before you plan to start cooking, place the eggplant, zuke and squash slices on paper towels and sprinkle with sea salt. Leave them for an hour. Then rinse in cold water, pat dry, and proceed.
1. Preheat oven to 350. Fill a large pot with water and put on stove to boil. Use olive oil to lube up two baking sheets.
2. Beat two eggs in large bowl for coating eggplant slices. Then dredge in bread crumbs. Place slices on the baking sheets. Put in oven for 15 minutes. Turn slices and bake for another ten minutes. Then put on a plate for later.
2. Do the egg coating and bread crumb dredging of the zuke and squash slices. You'll need to replenish eggs and bread crumbs at some point. Re-oil baking sheets, place dredged zuke and squash on them. Bake on one side for 10 minutes. Turn and bake for another five. Remove from oven and put on a plate for later. Increase oven temp to 475.
3. While squash is cooking, pour one or two tbsps of oil in a medium pot. When it's hot, add onions and cook until clear. Pour in marinara sauce, some salt, pepper and fresh herbs. Stir, lower heat, and cover.
4. Add pasta to boiling water. Boil until nearly done, around 9 or 10 minutes.
5. And now for the fun part. Put one ladle of sauce on the bottom or a large casserole dish. Then a layer of rigatoni. Then sprinkle mozzarella and parm on top. Then a layer of eggplant slices. More sauce, more cheese. Another layer of rigatoni. More sauce. More cheese. Then the zukes and squash. More sauce! More cheese! Then the last layer of sliced tomatoes on the top. Sprinkle with a mixture of parm and bread crumbs.
6. Place casserole dish in oven. Bake for twenty minutes.
7. Remove when the cheese is melted and the top is lightly browned.
8. Let it sit for a few minutes to cool off.
The whole thing takes an hour an a half (not counting the vegetable sweating hour). Totally worth it! And you'll have lots of leftovers. Even better the next day.
So, though this recipe isn't for the faint of heart or those pressed for time, if you have, say, a Saturday afternoon, it's absolutely worth it.
Here's the finished product:
As of this evening, I was so hungry when I ate it I inhaled it. My husband, who usually eats like a Hoover was astounded at my my ability to unhinge my jaw like an anaconda and shove most of the plate down my throat, un-chewed. :) Judges say???? FOUR STARS! Now all I need are people to share it with!