Maybe this is just an Italian thing, but every year at Christmas my mother makes a cheese-studded baked pasta dish as an appetizer. By the time the main course comes around no one even wants to so much as look at the large hunk of roasted meat she has prepared. Rather than suggest for the fifteenth year in a row that she choose one or the either (as no one can possibly have room in their stomach for both), I’ve caved and come up with a lighter version of baked ziti that provides all the satisfaction of the real deal without making you feel like you’re headed into a food coma after eating it. This version is stuffed with smoky roasted eggplant and a slightly spicy sauce, so it’s big on flavor while cutting back a bit on all the cheese, making it the perfect touch of moderation in an otherwise totally indulgent holiday season.
Joanne Bruno is a food writer and third year MD/PhD student. Find more of delicious ramblings over at her blog: Eats Well With Others
Serves 6, adapted from Now Eat This! Italian