I fell in love with the eggplant burgers I made last week. So much in love that I wanted to try stuffing them into pasta and covering them in sauce. And that’s exactly what I did. Changed a few little things in the eggplant to go along with the Italian flavors, and then sauced it up with not one but TWO sauces. You will have leftover marinara sauce, but I assure you it will not go to waste.
And these stuffed morsels? I was at a loss for words after the first bite. It may take a but of time, but good grief was is more than worth it! Make it. Now. I promise you will fall in love – again.
1/4 cup yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can whole tomatoes
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp fresh thyme
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp paprika
4 oz mascarpone cheese
2 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped
2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
EGGPLANT & SHELLS
20 jumbo pasta shells, cooked
2 large eggplants, peeled and cubed
1/4 cup yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped, plus more for garnish
1 cup shredded Mozzarella
1 cup plain bread crumbs
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
Pinch of salt and black pepper
Parmigiano-Reggiano, for garnish
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
4 tsp all-purpose flour
1 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
1/4 cup milk, at room temperature
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp nutmeg
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and lightly grease a 9 x 13 baking pan.
- First, make the marinara sauce. In a sauce pan, heat the olive oil and cook the onions for 4-5 minutes, add the garlic and roast for another 2-3 minutes. Pour in the can of tomatoes and remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer and simmer for 30 minutes.
- Using an immersion blender (or transfer to a blender), puree until you reach a desired consistency. Turn heat to low and cover until ready to assemble the shells.
- For the eggplant, heat a tablepsoon of oil over medium-low in a large pan and cook the cubed eggplant down to a mushy mass, stirring occasionally for approximately 25 minutes. Remove it from the pan and put it in a large bowl.
- In the same pan, lightly sauté the onion and garlic for 2 minutes. Add to the bowl of cooked eggplant.
- Stir in the parsley, Mozzarella, bread crumbs, and seasonings into the eggplant mixture. Get in there with your hands and mix it up. Set in the fridge for 20-30 minutes to chill.
- Meanwhile, prepare the bechamel sauce. Melt the butter in a non-stick sauce pan and slowly add the flour a teaspoon at a time, whisking until well blended (about 3 minutes). Next, whisk in the cream and milk and increase the heat to high until the sauce begins to simmer. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg- cook for another 3 minute then turn heat to low and allow to sit until time to assemble the stuffed shells.
- Pour the bechamel sauce into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Scoop a few tablespoons of eggplant filling inside each cooked shell. Place each pasta shell in the sauce, seam up. Dollop a spoonful of the marinara sauce over each shell. Cover the dish with foil and bake it for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and bake it for a final 15 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, if desired, and serve immediately.