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Casseroles: Eggplant, Sausage and Ziti Casserole -

Eggplant, Sausage and Ziti Casserole

Recipe Ingredients:

1largeeggplant, skinned & cut crosswise into 1/3 inch rounds
2cupseasoned Italian breadcrumbs
1/4cupcondensed milk
1/2cupolive oil - more if needed
parsley, chopped
1cupyellow onion, finely chopped
1lbsItalian sausage, removed from casing
3Tbsptomato paste
1can(28oz) whole tomatoes crushed, and their juices
1tspItalian seasoning
1/2cuppitted black olives, cut in quarters
1/4tspcrushed red pepper
1/2tspbasil leaves
1 1/2cupsliced mushrooms, fresh
15ozricotta cheese, whole milk not skim
1/2cupwhole milk
1/2cupgrated Locatelli cheese
12ozziti or mostaccioli, cooked Al Dente (not fully cooked, about 7 min)
1cupgrated Mozzarella

Recipe Instructions:

1.   Lightly grease a 9 by 13 inch casserole dish and set aside. Prepare the onions, mushrooms, olives, and mozzarella. Set in refrigerator. Prepare the sausage and set in refrigerator. Set out all seasonings.
2.   Put tomatoes in blender and set to chop. Use the pulse feature. Do Not over do! Open can of tomato paste and keep handy.
3.   In a large skillet over medium heat (4), heat cup of the olive oil. Put 2 eggs in a bowl with cup condensed milk and mix. Pour breadcrumbs in another bowl. Dip the eggplant in the egg mixture, then in the breadcrumbs. Add the eggplant to the skillet and cook until golden brown. Transfer to a plate with paper towels and set aside. Add olive oil as needed.
4.   Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat (4). Add the onions and sausage. Cook, stirring until the sausage is browned and the onion is soft, about 6 minutes.
5.   Add 3 tablespoons tomato paste and cook, stirring frequently, until it begins to brown, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juices, 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning, black olives, mushrooms teaspoon crushed red pepper and teaspoon salt. Reduce heat to medium-low and gently simmer, uncovered until the flavors marry and the sauce slightly thickens, about 20 minutes.
6.   Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
7.   Turn on burner to boil water for pasta. Add 1-teaspoon salt and some olive oil to the water. Remove from heat and add teaspoon basil and 1 teaspoon Essence.
8.   Meanwhile, put 15 ounces of ricotta cheese in a bowl and stir while pouring in whole milk to make a white sauce. The sauce should be a consistency that could be poured. Add some parsley to the ricotta white sauce.
9.   Arrange half of the eggplant slices on the bottom of the casserole, overlapping as necessary. Place half of the sausage-tomato sauce over the eggplant. Cover with 12 ounces cooked pasta. Pour on the ricotta white sauce. Arrange the other half of the eggplant slices on top of the sauce. Place the other half of the sausage-tomato sauce over the eggplant. Place the grated mozzarella cheese on top. Sprinkle with Locatelli cheese. Top with a little bit of parsley.
10.   Bake for 40 45 minutes or until golden brown on top.
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