Speaking of a New Year party, pictures like sexy pomegranate Champaign-tini , the heart-warming gift-exchange with close friends, delicious foods are flying in my head.
I like pasta, the traditional Italian touch with tomato, basil and sausages. I also like Greek food with the subtle earthy flavor from the roasted eggplant. This recipe seems like a perfect choice for the party. Good flavor, easy to make, and certainly can be done in advance.
Ingredients to assemble the Casserole
2 large eggplant, cut crosswise into 1/3-inch thick rounds
8 ounces ziti, cooked according to package directions and drained
1 cup grated Parmesan
1 1/2 cup grated mozzarella
Ingredients for the red sauce
1 pound Italian sausage, removed from casings (I chose the spicy type, as we like spicy food)
1 green pepper
1 cup chopped yellow onion
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 (28-ounce) can whole Italian tomatoes, crushed, and their juices
1 teaspoon Italian seasonings
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1/4 cup minced fresh basil leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Ingredients for the creamy sauce
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
2 cups whole milk
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Prepare Ingredients to assemble the casserole
1) Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9 by 13-inch casserole dish and set aside.
2) On a few cookie sheets, roasted eggplant at 375 degree for about 45 min.
3) Cook the ziti
Make the red sauce
Heat 2 tablespoons of the remaining olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot but not smoking, add the onion and sausage, and cook, stirring, until the sausage is browned and the onion is soft, about 6 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring frequently, until it begins to brown, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, their juices, the Italian seasoning, black olives, 1 teaspoon of salt, and the crushed red pepper. Reduce the heat to medium-low and gently simmer, uncovered, until the flavors marry and the sauce slightly thickens, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add the basil and adjust seasoning, to taste.
Make the creamy sauce
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened and forms a light roux, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk and, whisking frequently, cook until the sauce is thickened and smooth, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and season with the nutmeg and salt and pepper, to taste.
Assemble the Casserole
1) Arrange half of the eggplant slices on the bottom of the casserole, overlapping as necessary.
2) Top with half of the cooked pasta, then half of the red sauce and the creamy sauce
3) Repeat 1) and 2)
4) Top with the grated mozzarella and Parmesan.
Bake for 1 hour at 375 degree or until puffed and golden brown on top.