Baked Eggplant and Ricotta Shells

Another rainy cold day, another delicious, comforting pasta bake. ‘Tis the season after all. Here is my Baked Eggplant and Ricotta Shells starring Home Base.

For the Filling:

  • 1 large, firm eggplant
  • Olive oil, salt, and pepper
  • 250g full-fat ricotta
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
  • Handful of parsley, optional
  • 20-25 giant pasta shells (cook a few extra in case they break)

For the Sauce and Topping:

  • 1 jar of SNP #HomeBase
  • 1 ball mozzarella, grated
  • Handful of Parmigiano Reggiano, grated

Preheat the Oven: Preheat your oven to 200°C (400°F).

Prepare the Eggplant: Rub the eggplant with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Line a baking tray with baking paper or foil and place the eggplant on the tray. Prick the eggplant all over with a fork to avoid it exploding during baking. Bake for about 50 minutes or until soft. Remove from the oven and let it cool slightly. You can do this ahead of time if you like.

Make the Filling: Once the eggplant is cool, cut it open and scoop out the flesh into a food processor or bowl. Add the ricotta, lemon zest, grated garlic, Parmigiano Reggiano, and parsley if using. Blitz or beat until well combined. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Cook the Pasta Shells: Cook the pasta shells in boiling salted water for about 8 minutes or until very al dente (about 3 minutes less than the package instructions). You want them soft and pliable but not fully cooked, as they’ll continue cooking in the oven. Drain the pasta, reserving about 1/2 cup of the cooking water, and let the shells cool slightly so you can handle them.

Assemble the Dish: Spread about 3/4 of your tomato sauce in a deep baking dish (approximately Xcm x Xcm). Fill each shell with a heaped teaspoon of the ricotta mixture and nestle them into the sauce. Repeat until all the shells are filled. Pour the remaining sauce over the top of the filled shells. Sprinkle evenly with shredded mozzarella and grated Parmigiano Reggiano, and drizzle with a bit of olive oil.

Bake: Bake in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes or until golden and bubbly. Let the dish sit for 5 minutes before serving.

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