This is a new favorite. Somewhat improvised but informed by what was in the house and a need for something comforting. It takes some prep time, and few moments of multitasking, but there can be several variations (including meatballs, sausage, mushrooms, etc) to suit your mood. And, in the end, the result is really, quite good.
For a 2-4 servings you’ll need 4-5 oz of Penne (about 1/2 of a package), 1/2 eggplant (thickly cut into quarter rounds), 1 small summer squash (also cut into thick quarter rounds), 1/2 medium onion (chopped), 2 cloves garlic (crushed and chopped), 1 Tbsp oregano (preferably fresh), 1 Tbsp basil (preferably fresh), 1 large can of crushed tomatoes, 2 Tbsp tomato paste, 1/4c white wine, 3/4c shredded mozzarella, 3/4c ricotta cheese, 1/2c parmesan and Romano cheese mix, olive oil, salt, pepper.
Preheat the oven to 375.
Toss the thickly chopped eggplant and squash in a large bowl with 1/4c olive oil and a good grind of salt and pepper. Coat all pieces well.
In a sturdy pot, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat and then add chopped onion and garlic – and quickly stir until fragrant – about 2 mins. Add oregano and basil and stir quickly to coat, 30 seconds. Turn up the heat slightly and add the white wine. Stir well and allow white to mostly evaporate – about 5 mins.
Reduce heat and add a can of chopped tomatoes, tomato paste and a good grind of salt and pepper. Stir well and partially cover over medium heat and allow to simmer for about 10-20 mins. Bubbling but not violently. Stirring occasionally.
Line a short sided baking tray with foil and add 2-3 Tbsp of olive oil. Place the tray in the oven for a few minutes, then remove and tilt the tray to spread the oil evenly throughout the bottom of the tray.
Add eggplant and squash to the tray in a single layer and place tray back into the oven. Bake for 20 mins gently tossing midway through to even cooking and browning. Keep the oven on after you remove the eggplant/squash mixture.
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add penne pasta and cook to al dente – about 9 mins.
Lightly grease a deep baking dish and then layer in the…layers:
A little sauce to begin, followed by a layer of pasta; then a layer of roasted eggplant and squash; then mozzarella, parm/romano, ricotta; then repeat all three layers – possibly twice if you can fit it. Finish the top with additional sauce and cheese.
Place on a baking tray and place in the still heated oven and bake for 20-25 mins until brown and bubbly.
Serve in big bowls with crusty bread.