This dish is SUCH comfort food. My boys are in love with this version of the roasted eggplant sauce from American Masala by Suvir Saran. Since it is packed with veggies, I thought it would be a good one to try out with the baked ziti. The sauce can sometimes take a bit longer to make (just the roasting part really), but you can always make a couple batches and freeze it so that it is ready to go when you need it. SO totally worth it!! Here is an idea of the veggies I use, I vary it a bit sometimes depending what we get from the farmers market.
- 2 zucchini
- 3-4 medium carrots
- 1 red bell pepper
- 2 eggplants (larger size)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 tsp ground peppercorns
- 1/2 tsp Herbs of Italy (whatever you have really)
- 1 large red onion chopped
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
- 2 cups water
- 1 large can (3 cups) canned chopped tomatoes
For the Ziti
- olive oil for greasing the 9×13 inch pan
- 1 pound mozzarella half of it cubed, the other half sliced thinly or grated
- about 8 ounces of grated parmesan (I think I used more-I got carried away)
- 1 pound ziti pasta (I used Trader Joe’s gluten-free corn penne which held up really well in this dish)
Make the sauce:
Place oven rack on top setting. Put oven on high broil. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and roast squash, zucchini, pepper, carrots, and eggplants until they are charred. Turn them every 5 minutes or so. Roasting can take about 15 -20 minutes. I remove the veggies individually when they are done and place in a large bowl to collect the juices. Once cooled, peel away as much as the char as you can and chop finely and set aside. Running them under cold water sometimes helps peel off the char.
Heat oil in with ground peppercorns and herbs in a large pot over medium heat until you can smell them. Add the onions and salt and cook until onion softens - maybe 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook about a minute. Stir in the chopped roasted vegetables and their juices. Stir often for about 5 minutes. Add 1 cup of the water and let it absorb into the veggies. Add tomatoes and the other cup of water. Reduce heat to medium and cook until the sauce thickens - about 15 minutes. Once it thickens, the sauce is done.
Make the Ziti:
Preheat oven 400F and grease the 9×13 inch baking dish with the olive oil. Cook the pasta until it is al-dente. Put cooked drained pasta in a large bowl and mix with about 2/3 of the sauce and the cubed mozzarella. Mix it up so that the cheese melts.
Bake the ziti for about 20 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbling up the edges and the cheese is starting to get brown. Then turn the broiler on high and broil for about 2-3 minutes…you have to watch this- for the cheese will brown quickly! Let the ziti sit for a bit before you cut and serve. So good- Enjoy!!