Eggplant, Sausage, and Ziti Casserole

Total Time:
3 hr 10 min
55 min
2 hr 15 min

8 to 10 servings

  • 1 large eggplant, cut crosswise into 1/3-inch thick rounds
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, plus more as needed
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1 pound Italian sausage, removed from casings
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole Italian tomatoes, crushed, and their juices
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasonings
  • 1/2 cup pitted black olives, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh basil leaves
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 8 ounces ziti, cooked according to package directions and drained
  • 1 cup grated mozzarella
  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9 by 13-inch casserole dish and set aside.

  • In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1/4 cup of the oil. Add the eggplant in batches, seasoning on both sides with salt and pepper, and cook until golden, adding more oil as needed. Transfer to a plate as they cook, and set aside.

  • Heat 2 tablespoons of the remaining olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot but not smoking, add the onion and sausage, and cook, stirring, until the sausage is browned and the onion is soft, about 6 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring frequently, until it begins to brown, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, their juices, the Italian seasoning, black olives, 1 teaspoon of salt, and the crushed red pepper. Reduce the heat to medium-low and gently simmer, uncovered, until the flavors marry and the sauce slightly thickens, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add the basil and adjust seasoning, to taste.

  • Meanwhile, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened and forms a light roux, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk and, whisking frequently, cook until the sauce is thickened and smooth, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and season with the nutmeg and salt and pepper, to taste.

  • Arrange half of the eggplant slices on the bottom of the casserole, overlapping as necessary. Top with half of the cooked pasta, then half of the sausage-tomato sauce. Place another layer of eggplant slices on top of the sauce, then layers of pasta and sausage-tomato sauce. Pour on the white sauce, then top with the grated mozzarella and Parmesan.

  • Bake for 1 hour, or until puffed and golden brown on top.

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