As I have mentioned, I lost my Great Aunt Rose a few weeks ago. Being without her around the holidays is going to be a challenge. Christmas around my family is always a large ordeal. There can be up to 80 people at my Aunt Carol’s for Christmas dinner! Always a fabulous time! My Aunt Rose contributed plenty of food! Her signatures were always baked ziti and braciole.
I find a beautiful way to keep the memory of a loved one around is through food. I find such joy in making family recipes! I just love the tradition and you can almost feel the love of that person come through their dishes. So here is my Aunt Rose’s recipe for baked ziti that I have altered slightly by adding eggplant and spinach.
This recipe serves 4 large portions or 9 small ones (you can easily double and bake in a 9×12 dish)
1/2 lb. of ziti
1/2 eggplant, cut into 1 inch cubes
tomato sauce, yours or my recipe
1 cup ricotta cheese
a couple handfuls of fresh spinach, roughly chopped
a few leaves of fresh basil, roughly sliced
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
a handful of grated parmesan cheese
a sprinkle of dried oregano
What you’ll do:
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Make your tomato sauce. Cook the pasta according to the directions on the box until very al dente (chewy) The noodle will cook more in the oven and you don’t want them to get too limp. When the noodles are done, toss them in some tomato sauce to coat. (this will prevent sticking) Lightly saute the eggplant cubes in some olive oil with a pinch of salt till they just begin to turn golden.
Now for assembly. Spread some tomato sauce at the bottom of the baking dish. (so the pasta doesn’t stick)
I hope you enjoy as much as I do!