EGGPLANT AND MUSHROOM PASTICCIO
Ingredients for 6 servings:
1 28 oz. can of plum tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small Spanish onion, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons Italian parsley, minced
2 stems fresh basil, leaves only, minced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, stripped from the stem and chopped
1 teaspoon fresh marjoram, minced
1/2 cup red wine
Eggplant and Mushrooms:
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 globe eggplant, cut into 1/2" chunks
1 Spanish onion, sliced
2 teaspoon basil leaves, minced
2 teasoons marjoram leaves, minced
6 ounces fresh mushrooms, trimmed, cleaned and sliced
Freshly ground black pepper
Pasta and Custard:
4 ounces dried penne pasta
1 cup ricotta
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cups light cream (half and half)
4 ounces grated Paramesan
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg
Tomato Sauce: Squeeze seeds from the canned tomatoes reserving the juices. Dice the tomatoes and reserve. Heat the olive oil in heavy saucepan. Saute the onion for 2-3 minutes to soften it before adding the garlic and fresh herbs. Cook a minute more to wilt the herbs then add the tomatoes, their juices and wine to the pan.. Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, until reduced to 3 cups. Season to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.
Eggplant and Mushrooms: Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a heavy skillet. Toss the eggplant pieces in the oil, season lightly with salt and saute until browned and soft. Slide the pieces onto a bowl..
Heat remaining oil in the skillet before adding the onion slices. Toss them in the oil and cook slowly with garlic and fresh herbs for 5 to 7 minutes until soft. Turn up the heat, add the mushroom slices and cook until they are browned and release their juices. Add them to the bowl with the eggplant. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.
Pasta and Custard: Cook the pasta in 3 quarts boiling salted water for 5 minutes, or about 2 minutes short of al dente. Drain the pasta, refresh in an iced water bath and reserve.
Combine the ricotta, eggs, cream and a quarter the cheese in a Bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Fold in a dusting of nutmeg.
Assembly and Baking: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a 2 quart casserole. Spread a light coat of Tomato Sauce over the bottom of the dish. Stir the pasta into the remaining sauce and lay it on top of this layer. Distribute the eggplant and mushroom pieces over the pasta and sprinkle on the cheese. Spread the ricotta mixture on top. Bake the casserole for 25 to 30 minutes until the top has browned. Hold 5 minutes before serving