pasta

(I Promise You Can’t Tell It’s Eggplant) Lasagna

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Sometimes I trick people into eating eggplant. This is how I do it.

First, you need to sharpen your knife. No, really. Eggplant skin is shockingly tough. Then wash your knife, to be safe.

With your clean and sharp knife, cut two small eggplants into slices no thicker than 1/4″. Brush both sides of each slice with extra virgin olive oil and place in one layer on parchment lined baking sheets (or silicone sheets if you’ve got them). Sprinkle with salt. Cook at 350 for 10-15 minutes, until soft.

In a high walled skillet, brown 1 lb. ground turkey or beef and one minced onion. Add one can drained diced tomatoes. Stir in 1/2 of 24 ounces marinara sauce of your choosing. Season with 1 teaspoon minced garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon onion powder, and 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes.

Combine 15 ounces of ricotta with 1 bunch of finely chopped parsley and 2 tablespoons of shredded mozzarella.

Pour a thin layer of your reserved marinara sauce into a 9×9 pan. Layer: eggplant, meat sauce, all of the ricotta mixture, marinara sauce, eggplant, meat sauce. Top with a handful of shredded mozarella and a light dusting of bread crumbs if you’re adventurous.

Bake at 350 for approximately 1 hour. Turn on the broiler just before you take it out of the oven so the cheese gets nice and golden. Let sit 15 minutes before serving so you don’t scald yourself with a soupy mess.

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Baked Ziti

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To 1 3/4 cups plain tomato sauce, add 5 cloves of roasted garlic, minced, 1 1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes, 1/4 cup minced fresh basil, 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Mix together and set to the side.

Heavily salt a pan of water and bring to a boil. Add 3 cups ziti and cook according to al dente instructions. Drain well. Mix the noodles and around 2/3 of the sauce together in a large bowl.

In either three small spring pans or one large spring pan, stand your saucy noodles on end. This is best accomplished by holding or propping the spring pan nearly vertical and using a small flat silicone spatula to transfer the noodles from the bowl to the spring pan. Once full, return pan to a flat position and spoon sauce over, using the back of a spoon to encourage the sauce into the noodles. Top with shredded mozzarella, a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese and a dash of bread crumbs.

Cook in the oven at 350 for 15 minutes or until mozzarella is melted. Broil the tops to get them golden brown. Remove from the oven and the spring pan and top with fresh topped basil. You can serve it atop meat sauce if you’d like it that way.

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