One thing I’ve learned over the years and adopted as my own way of doing things, Italians don’t just have hot dogs and hamburgers at a cookout, they have “trays” of food. And there has to be pasta somewhere on the menu. Betsy fine-tuned our standard veggie ziti with an emphasis on eggplant. This year, her version will be on the table.
Betsy’s Vegetable Ziti
Toss cubed eggplant, red onion, and grape tomatoes on a 1/2 sheet pan lined with parchment paper with California extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast at 450 for about 25 minutes (until veggies are really brown). Don’t move them around while cooking. While veggies are roasting, heat some minced garlic in the same olive oil with red pepper flakes and then add a jar (or maybe a jar and a half) of Rao’s marinara. Simmer for awhile and then add lots of shredded fresh basil. Cook penne until done (there’s no need to bake this once it’s combined – you’ll just be heating it through before you serve). When everything is ready, toss pasta, veggies, and sauce with lots of freshly grated parm (maybe a cup for a 1 lb of pasta). Add salt and pepper to taste (and maybe some more California oil). Once mixture has cooled, add cubed fresh mozzerella (1 ball). That way, the mozzerella doesn’t melt and get stringy before you reheat, and it gets distributed evenly throughout the pasta.
Must be in her Italian genes. Betsy thinks in terms of “trays” too!