- 6 medium eggplants
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 1 pound fresh or frozen cavatelli
- 4 cups tomato puree
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, chopped
- 1 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano
- Whole basil leaves, for garnish
Preheat oven to 350° F. Line two large sheetpans with parchment paper. Brush the eggplants with oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Arrange the eggplant slices on the prepared baking sheets in a single layer. Bake until the eggplant are golden brown. Let cool.
Lightly oil six 5 x 3-inch souffle dishes or ramekins. Arrange the eggplant slices in the dishes overlapping them slightly and allowing them to hang over the rim. Set aside.
In a 12-inch saute pan, combine 1/4 cup oil, the tomato sauce, basil, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook 5 minutes or until slightly thickened. Remove the pan from the heat. Remove half of the sauce and set it aside.
Bring a large pot of water to boiling. Add the cavatelli and salt to taste. Cook, stirring frequently, until the cavatelli are almost done but still slightly undercooked. Drain the cavatelli and add them to the tomato sauce with the mozzarella and 1/4 cup of the pecorino. Stir well.
Spoon the cavatelli into the prepared timbales and fold the overhanging eggplant slices over the top. Bake 20 minutes or until the timbales are hot in the center.
To serve, reheat the remaining sauce and spoon it onto 6 warm plates. Unmold one of the eggplant timbales onto a large spatula, then carefully slide it onto the sauce. Sprinkle with the remaining pecorino and garnish with basil leaves. Repeat with the remaining timbales. Serve immediately.
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