Pasta al Forno
For the Tomato Sauce
- 2 tbsps olive oil
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tbsps. tomato paste
- 3 L tomato puree, (seedless)
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper.
For the Meat Balls
- 1 lb ground veal
- 1 lb ground pork
- ½ cup bread crumbs, plain
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- ½ cup parsley, finely chopped
- 3 eggs
- ¼ cup water
- 1 tsp salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper.
For the Eggplant
- 2 eggplants, peeled, sliced ¼ inch thick
- 1 cup all-purpose flour (add pinch of salt/pepper)
- 3 eggs + 1 tbsp. water, lightly beaten (add pinch of salt/pepper)
- 3 tbsps. vegetable oil
- Pinch of salt and pepper.
Putting it all Together
- 2 lbs of penne lisce (2 packs), half cooked, drained in colander
- 1 mozzarella, grated
- 1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Prepare the sauce
- Heat a large pot, add olive oil and sauté onion and garlic until onions are translucent, approx. 4 minutes.
- Add tomato paste and mix well. Cook for about 30 seconds to develop the rich tomato flavour.
- Add tomato puree, salt and pepper.
- Cook for about 1 hour stirring occasionally.
Prepare the meatballs
- Preheat oven to 375°F
- In a large bowl, mix the veal and pork with your hands to combine.
- Add bread crumbs, cheese, parsley, eggs, water, salt and pepper.
- Mix with your hands until all ingredients are well combined.
- Form into small meatballs then place on a greased or parchment lined baking sheet.
- Bake in oven for about 20 minutes or until lightly golden and cooked through.
Prepare the eggplant
- Peel, and slice the eggplant.
- Set up a production line → 1 bowl for flour, 1 bowl for whisked eggs, flat plate for coated eggplant.
- Begin coating eggplant one piece at a time in flour, dip into egg mixture then transfer to the flat plate.
- Once all the eggplant slices are coated, heat a large sauté pan and add oil. Once the oil is hot, begin lightly frying eggplant until golden on each side.
- Set aside.
Putting it altogether
- Preheat oven to 350 ᵒF
- Add the half cooked pasta back to the empty pot it was boiling in, toss with ½ cup tomato sauce to prevent sticking.
- Layer the pasta in this order: tomato sauce at the bottom, pasta, eggplant, meat balls, sauce, mozzarella, Parmesan, more sauce. Repeat. The top layer should only have tomato sauce, a few meat balls and Parmesan cheese.
- Cover with foil paper.
- Bake in the oven for 45 minutes at 350 ᵒF.