Cooking My Way Onto the Catwalk

Great news, ya’ll! Chef Jaime drank the super model Kool-Aid (which tastes a lot like vino)!! She’s on board with cheesy, carb-laden dishes, just like they teach you in super model school. Thank goodness – it was getting lonely over here, just me and Chrissy in the kitchen every weekend. Here’s the first leg of Chef J’s journey.
 
Recently inspired by my sister-in-law (and in an attempt to look like a Super Model after having two kids), I decided I must try one of these amazing looking Chrissy Teigen recipes in Cravings . I officially cooked my way onto the catwalk with her baked pasta dish. Pasta you say? Yes please. Cheese and carbs are just the thing to keep this lady happy and warm on a cold day. Don’t worry, there’s eggplant in there so we’re still being healthy. This dish also has quite a bit of heat. It was therefore deemed too spicy by the kids, but had just the right amount of zing for us adults. And you could be extra fancy like Ms. Teigen and make your own pasta sauce, but I used jarred sauce because of the aforementioned toddlers running around my kitchen screaming at each other. At least we can always have fancy wine. Make this pasta and have a glass tonight.

Spicy Baked Pasta with Mozzarella Bombs

 For the eggplant:
1/2 c olive oil
1 large eggplant
2 t kosher salt
1 t black pepper
1 t crushed red pepper flakes
For the ziti:
16 oz ziti or penne pasta (I used whole wheat penne)
6 c pasta sauce (any variety – I used 1 1/2 jars of tomato & basil sauce)
15 oz whole-milk ricotta cheese
16 oz fresh mozzarella, cut into 3/4-in cubes
1 c fresh basil leaves, torn by hand
1 1/2 t kosher salt
1 t black pepper
1 t crushed red pepper flakes
Cook the eggplant:
In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat until hot. Carefully add the eggplant and sprinkle on the salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring once and awhile, until the eggplant is soft and golden brown (about 15 minutes). Remove from the heat and let cool a bit.
Make and bake the pasta:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
While the eggplant is cooking, cook the pasta to al dente according to the package directions. Drain and transfer to the largest bowl you have in your kitchen – you’re about to put a ton of deliciousness in there.
Add the cooked eggplant to the pasta along with the pasta sauce, ricotta, two thirds of the mozzarella, the basil, the salt, the black pepper, and red pepper flakes and stir it all together. Dump the mixture into a 9×13 baking dish and top with the rest of the mozzarella, gently pressing the pieces into the pasta.
Bake until golden and bubbling, about 45 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.
Note: this is even spicier the next day. Have your wine glass handy.

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