This one-dish meal is very easy to assemble, tastes amazing, feeds many when you’ve got a budget and best of all it heats up great for future meals. You could freeze it if you wanted to. I used the following veggies because that’s what I had in my fridge and what was seasonally available. But you can adapt it to what your personal preference is or what you can buy where you live. This is an adaptation of another baked pasta recipe I really like that uses zucchini and sausages.
500 grams Farfalle pasta (bow-tie pasta) or another short pasta
454 grams (1 lb) of ground beef, preferably medium fat and not extra lean
2 cups of plain tomato sauce
1 red onion, sliced
2 red peppers thickly sliced
10 cloves garlic, 8 kept in skin and 2 minced
6 cremini mushrooms (optional)
1 medium sized eggplant, remove stem and slice from stem to end width-wise about 5 slits
1 cup whole pitted green olives
1 leek, mostly white portion with a little bit of green end, chopped into 2″ pieces
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
6-8 slices of mozzarella cheese or pepper jack
1 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs (if your breadcrumbs are plain add a pinch of salt, pepper, garlic powder, dried oregano, dried basil)
salt & pepper
1/2 cup good quality olive oil
9×11 Baking dish
In a large pot bring heavily salted water to a boil. When water is boiling add pasta and stir well. Cook 2 minutes less than manufacturers directions. In the meantime, slice up onion, leek, peppers, mushrooms and set aside. Combine in a large bowl ground beef, 1 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp black pepper, breadcrumbs, egg and 2 minced garlic cloves. Mix well by hand but do not over-mix. Form into golf-ball sized meatballs and set aside. Once pasta is almost finished cooking (it shouldn’t be edible at this point) drain from pasta water and return pasta to your pot. Add all your sliced veggies, garlic (still in its skin) olives, 1 3/4 cup tomato sauce, 1/2 cup of Parm & mozzarella cheese and olives. Mix well but gently. Pour into baking dish and nestle in the centre the eggplant. Drizzle olive oil over the entire dish including and especially on the eggplant. Add sliced cheese into the pre-cut slits. Pour remainder of sauce over pasta and nestle the meatballs around the eggplant. Top with remainder of cheese. Cover and bake 45 min. Remove cover and bake additional 10 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.
SERVE WITH……….Fresh rustic Calabrese bread and tossed salad.
WINE PAIRING SUGGESTION……..A medium bodied red-wine would be a good accompaniment, like an Argentinian Malbec.