Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
- 1 large or 2 small eggplants, weighing about 2 pounds
- 1/2 head of garlic
- 2 cups milk
- Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
- 3 branches thyme or 2 pinches of dried
- 2 Tablespoons chopped basil or 1 teaspoons dried
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 Tablespoons butter
- 2 Tablespoons flour
- 2 Tablespoons virgin olive oil
- Freshly ground pepper
- 1 cup freshly grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
- 8 ounces rigatoni
Peel the garlic. Mash the cloves until broken into a rough puree. Alternatively, chop the garlic very finely. Combine it with the milk, nutmeg, thyme, basil, and bay leaf in a small pan and set over low heat. In another pan, melt the butter and stir in the flour to make a roux. Cook it for several minutes over a low flame, then pour in the milk mixture all at once an whisk together. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring frequently, over the lowest possible heat, for 30 minutes. The taste of the garlic should soften and permeate the sauce. Stir in half the cheese.
While the sauce is cooking, boil the pasta in plenty of salted water until it is al dente. Pour it into a colander and immediately rinse it with cold water to stop the cooking, and set aside.
Rinse the eggplant briefly then pat it dry with a towel. Heat the olive oil in a wide skillet, add the eggplant, and toss it to distribute the oil. Cook over medium heat, frequently tossing the cubes until they are lightly browned and soft, about 15 to 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and lightly butter or oil and 8- by 10-inch baking dish. Toss the pasta with two-thirds of the sauce and the eggplant. Pile the mixture into the dish, cover with the rest of the sauce and sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top. Bake for twenty-five minutes or until the surface is bubbly and lightly browned. Let settle for a few minutes then serve.
Note: This recipe multiplies easily -- twice the amount will feed 8 to 10 people.
Yield: 4 servings
Recipe Source: The Savory Way by Deborah Madison (Bantam)
Reprinted with permission.