A total cheese bomb – one pound of cheese is a lot of cheese if you’re pairing it with one pound of pasta. Requires managing three pots simultaneously, but it’s actually about as easy as can be imagined given that. It does take a bit of time, though, partially because of that but mostly because of the baking time.

This would seem to be the first recipe I’ve given from the best cookbook ever. Really, that cookbook was a total godsend – we got it a month or so before Miranda was born, and it’s a wonderful collection of quite good, varied recipes that are easy enough that, even if one of us was too zonked to help with the cooking, the other of us didn’t mind.

If you can’t find orecchiette, shells are fine. But orecchiette really does work better.

Pasta alla Anna, from Pasta Fresca, by Viana La Place and Evan Kleiman.

1 lb orecchiette
olive oil
1 large eggplant, diced
28-oz can crushed tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, minced
pinch red papper flakes
1 lb smoked mozzarella, diced
freshly grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook orecchiette. Meanwhile, heat garlic and pepper flakes in olive oil in another pan, add tomatoes, and cook for a bit. Heat more olive oil in a skillet (quite a bit: eggplant is thirsty), and fry the eggplant.

Mix pasta, tomato sauce, eggplant, mozzarella, salt, pepper, and a handful of Parmesan. Put in a 9 1/2 by 12-inch baking dish; sprinkle another handful of Parmesan on top. Cover with aluminum foil, and bake for 40 minutes. Raise heat to 400 degrees, remove foil, and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes more.

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