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Saturday, October 26, 2013

Lumaconi alla Parmigiana- Oven-baked Vegetarian Pasta | You've Got Meal!

While we were grocery shopping we stumbled upon a great variety of pasta. Even though we like to make our pasta from scratch, sometimes is nice to come home in the evening and put together some pasta and other simple ingredients for a nice, under 30-minutes dinner.

We got some Pizzocheri pasta, that still wait patiently in the pantry, and a pack of Lumaconi. Lumaconi is a snail shell shaped type of pasta, that is quite thick and long, which makes them perfect for very al dente boiling and oven baking to finish the cooking.

I like my pasta dishes 2 ways, really light and simple or super cheesy, and I always thought that oven baked pasta is super filling. that is why I wanted to go for a meatless choice for Lumaconi. Eggplant or aubergine is a great choice for vegetarians, being high in fiber content it makes you feel full.

The usual layers needed for an oven baked pasta dish are the pasta, some sauce or filling and some other sauce or topping to seal everything. I chose not to fill the pasta to save time, but the flavor was not lost.

I started off by preparing the sauce:
  • 4 tbs olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • small handful of olives, pits removed and cut in round slices
  • 1200 ml tomato passata/ pulp (of course you can make your own)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Heat up the oil, add the garlic, then the olives, stir well.
  • Add the tomato paste and let the sauce thicken, stirring from time to time. I let it simmer for about 15 minutes with the lid on because it gets bubbly.

You will also need:
  • 1 small eggplant
  • 500 g dry Lumaconi pasta
  • 500 g mozzarella, cut into cubes
  • some basil leaves, depending on how much you like basil
  • 100-140 g Parmesan
  • some olive oil, to oil the baking tray
  • While the sauce simmers, cut the eggplant into slices and then into cubes, deep-fry it until it gets golden, then take it out on an absorbing paper towel.
  • Boil the Lumaconi really al dente.
  • Grate the Parmesan and prepare the basil leaves.

To arrange the ingredients in a tall baking tray:

  • Oil the baking tray bottom and sides with a soaked napkin.
  • Pour 3/4 of the sauce on the pasta and mix well, you can  always fill the shells with the sauce. Put aside the remaining sauce.
  • Start with a Lumaconi and sauce layer, then add half of the eggplant, half of the mozzarella, some basil leaves and half of the Parmesan.
  • Continue with the other Lumaconi layer, eggplant, mozzarella, basil, Parmesan.
  • Finish off with the remaining sauce.
  • Bake in the oven for 40 minutes, medium heat.

It really is a nice dish, is quite impressive and it is way more easy to make than it seems. We were really satisfied with the result and we hope you try it also. It is great served immediately, but in arder to set a little and have a nice and firm shape like in the first picture, let it acool for a bit.


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