I will admit, I have never been a huge fan of pasta bakes. I would much prefer to sit down to a nice, moist steaming bowl of normal pasta and not tuck in to a dried out shadow of a pasta meals former self. Except for this one. I spent days thinking about how I could trap that moisture in and I actually think I have the answer. A creamy mix of Ricotta and Parmesan did exactly as I thought, and not only did it keep all that moisture in, it really gave the dish a show stopping, indulgent, delicious addition. Winner!!
Prep time: 30 Minutes Cooking time: 50 Minutes $ Low Budget
500gm of large spiral pasta
1/3 cup of olive oil
2 chorizo sausages, halved and sliced
1 medium eggplant, cut into 1.5cm cubes
1 red onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tsp of dried oregano
1 tsp of chilli flakes (optional)
1 cup of pitted kalamata olives
1 cup of dry white wine
700ml of tomato passata
2 tbs of chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 tsp of sugar
Sea salt and cracked pepper
Chopped parsley or micro herbs for garnish (my new favourite thing!)
For the topping:
250gm of ricotta cheese
1/2 cup of grated parmesan
1/2 cup of thin cream
Sea salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 180°. Place the eggplant on a lined baking tray and drizzle with most of the olive oil, setting some aside for frying. Season lightly with salt and pepper and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until just cooked.
Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and add the pasta. Cook for approximately 8-10 minutes until just under al dente`, as it will continue to cook in the oven.
Heat a large, heavy based fry pan and add the chorizo, frying until golden. Remove from the pan and set aside on a plate. Add a little more oil to the pan and fry the onion until soft before adding the garlic, oregano and chilli flakes. Once aromatic, return the chorizo to the pan with the olives and baked eggplant. Pour in the wine and allow to reduce for 2-3 minutes before pouring in the passata. Season with salt, pepper and sugar and stir to combine. Simmer for approximately 5-7 minutes.
Place the ricotta, parmesan, cream and egg in a small bowl, season with a little salt and pepper and whisk to combine.
Drain the pasta and pop it back in the pot. Add the parsley to the sauce, stir and then pour the sauce over the pasta, using a wooden spoon to mix it in gently. Place the pasta mixture in a large baking dish or individual ramekins. Pour the ricotta mixture evenly over the top of the pasta and place in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden and bubbling. Serve with a crisp green salad and a lovely glass of red (for the adults of course).