Aubergine Timbale

Giada's baked pasta with aubergines makes a great centerpiece and comfort dish.
  • 2 medium aubergines, sliced 1/2-cm thick
  • 80ml olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 230g penne pasta
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 230g ground beef
  • 230g Italian pork sausage
  • 60ml Marsala wine
  • 240ml frozen peas, thawed
  • 475ml store-bought marinara sauce
  • 170g diced smoked mozzarella cheese
  • 65g grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus 20g
  • 20g chopped fresh basil leaves
  • Special equipment: 9-inch springform pan
Place a grill pan over medium-high heat or pre-heat a gas or charcoal grill. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the eggplant slices with 80ml olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill the eggplant until tender and colored with grill marks, about 4 minutes per side. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta.

Meanwhile, warm the two tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying-pan. Add the onion and saute until tender, about three minutes. Add the beef and pork, and brown the meat, breaking it into bite-sized pieces with a wooden spoon, about five minutes. Add the Marsala and cook until the liquid has evaporated, about three minutes. Turn off the heat. Add the peas and marinara sauce and stir to combine. Add the cheeses, basil, and cooked pasta. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 180°C / 350°F. Line the springform pan with the grilled eggplant. Be sure that the slices overlap and hang over the edge of the pan. Fill the pan with the pasta mixture, pressing down to make sure the pan is filling up evenly. Fold the eggplant slices up over the top of the pasta and add a few more slices on top to completely enclose the timbale. Bake the timbale until warmed through and the cheese has melted, about 30 minutes. Let rest on the counter for 10 minutes to set.

To serve, invert the timbale onto a serving plate and remove the springform pan. Sprinkle the remaining 20g grated Pecorino Romano cheese over the top. Slice and serve.

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