Monday, April 23, 2012

#foodstampchallenge - Monday: Penne w/Eggplant

Adapted from @mariobatali this is one of the most expensive recipes I'll make during the challenge. But it makes eight servings with about 490 calories and 7 grams of fiber each. The official Mario version can be found at Penne al Forno con Melanzane. I've reduced the amount of olive oil used by baking the eggplant rather than frying it (as suggested in the corresponding TV episode) and used plain bottled tomato sauce instead of making Mario's Basic Tomato Sauce.


2 pounds eggplant, sliced into 1/2 inch rounds (about 2 medium eggplant)
4 Tbs (approx.) Olive oil
1 pound penne
2 cups tomato sauce
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
1/3 cup grated caciocavallo or pecorino fresco (not the hard dry kind)
4 or 5 sprigs fresh Basil
Salt & Pepper


Preheat the oven to 375 F.

Sprinkle the eggplant slices with salt and stack them in a colander. Top with a plate and weight it down with a brick or a big can of tomatoes. Let them sit for at least an hour, then rinse and pat dry. Brush the slices on both sides lightly with olive oil, distribute in one layer on a baking sheet and bake until lightly browned.

Cook the penne according to package directions but cut the cooking time in half, about 5 minutes. Drain and  toss with 3/4 cup of the tomato sauce.

So It Doesn't Stick

Brush the bottom and sides of a 9x13 baking pan with olive oil and pour in just enough tomato sauce to cover the bottom. Sprinkle with half the bread crumbs and a little salt and pepper. (The pan in the pictures is actually 10x15 so things are a little spread out.)

Half Way There
Spread half the pasta on the breadcrumbs and top with half of the eggplant. Cover with half the remaining tomato sauce and half of the cheese and half the basil.

Repeat with the remaining pasta and eggplant then spread on the remaining tomato sauce, cheese, breadcrumbs and torn Basil leaves. Drizzle 2 Tbs olive oil over the top and bake for 1 hour.

30 Minutes to Go!

Let it rest for 20-30 minutes before serving.

Incidentally, those keeping score at home may recall that my shopping list didn't have eggplant or tomato sauce on it but it did have $6.98 of budget remaining. On the way home this evening I stopped at Superfresh and bought:

1.95 lbs eggplant                    $2.91
Tomato Basil Pasta Sauce             $2.00
1 lb rice                            $1.55

So now we're done - whatever food we have has to last through Sunday.

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