Full of flavour casserole of eggplants staffed with pasta, fresh tomato sauce, mini meatballs, creamy stracciatella cheese and fresh basil!
Diet is for tomorrow. Today is for this delicious eggplant casserole dish!
A while back I posted a recipe for staffed eggplant, which was my mom’s passed down the generations. That one remain one of my favourite way of cooking eggplants, but today’s recipe is equally delicious.
It brings together meatballs, pasta, cheese and tomato. Isn’t that the perfect formula for a mouth-watering dish?
Ingredients (serves 8):
- 4 medium-sized eggplants
- 150 g fusilli pasta
- a bottle of passata (tomato puree)
- 1/2 medium onion
- 2+2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- salt and ground pepper
- 1 clove garlic, crushed and minced
- 200 g fresh stracciatella cheese
- 60 g grated parmesan cheese
- fresh basil
- 1 cup of fresh cherry tomatoes
for the meatballs
- 180 g ground pork
- 1 egg
- 2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley and basil
- 1/3 cup breadcrumb
- 1 clove of garlic, crushed and minced
- milk as needed
- salt and ground pepper
- oil to fry
In a skillet heat up 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil, add sliced onion and cook on low heat until onion is soft. Pour in the bottle of passata (tomato puree), season with salt, pepper and a few leaves of fresh basil. Cover with a lid and let cook on low heat for 2 hours. Sauce should be dense and flavourful.
Meanwhile using a rounded-tip knife, cut eggplant in half then curve out the internal part, leaving a few mm of thickness around the skin.
Chop up the internal part and place it in a skillet with 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil, 1 clove of crushed garlic, salt, pepper and chopped fresh basil.
Cook the filling on medium-high until softened. Meanwhile drop in boiling water the eggplant cups, and cook them for 10 min.
Next, we need to make the meatballs. Just gather all the ingredients into a bowl and mix them together, adding enough milk to get a soft but not sticky mixture.
Roll it into mini-sized meatballs and fry them in hot oil. I used my mom’s deep frier for this, which made it fast and hassle-free.
Cook the fusilli in boiling, salty water until al dente. Drain and dress with a few tbsp of tomato sauce, the cooked diced eggplants and 2/3 of the grated parmesan cheese.
Now, on to assembling our casserole!
Pour a few tbsp of tomato sauce at the bottom of your casserole dish, lay the eggplant cups, drizzle them with oil and a few tbsp of tomato sauce
and fill them with pasta, a few meatballs and some stracciatella cheese. Add some fresh cherry tomatoes (cut in half), a few leaves of fresh basil and the remaining grated parmesan cheese
Bake in pre-heated oven at 200 C for about 20-30 min or until golden in color and cheese is melted.
Remove from the oven and let your casserole dish cool down for 10-15 min. This is best served warm with cheese still running, but not super hot.
Hope you like it!
*recipe adapted from magazine Ci Piace Cucinare