I selected this recipe without reading it. I had a picture in my mind as to what was to be done and what the ingredients would be. I was close except for a key ingredient or may be two. This, Mr. Food recipe had no ricotta and frankly, I think it needs it.
I just saw what my problem is. I barely glanced at the recipe but I read the description and I see, I misread baked ziti to be lasagna. No, the words are not similar. This was all in my head. I was thinking of what a great combination lasagna and eggplant parmesan were but that was not close to what was written. I am leaving the original title and will add my changes.
Baked Macaroni and Eggplant Neapolitan is like eggplant parmigiana and baked ziti all rolled into one. Every mouthful is pure delight!
In a large skillet, heat 1/4 inch oil over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Cook eggplant, a few slices at a time, until well browned on each side, adding more oil as needed. Drain eggplant on a paper towel-lined platter and cover to keep warm. (I did this about an hour before, I actually put it together. It is time-consuming. I also was able to squeeze out more oil, when the time had passed.)
Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat a large baking dish with cooking spray.
Here is where I did everything differently. This is how I layered it. Under this is what Mr. Food wrote. I hope this will not confuse you.
1. I put about a cup of Marinara on the bottom of the dish.
2. I covered this with half of the pasta.
3. Next layer was one half of the Ricotta cheese. Use a utensil to smooth it out or drop it in balls on the pasta.
4. Cover with Marinara sauce and half the eggplant.
5. Sprinkle half of the mozzarella over the Ricotta and then sprinkle 2 tablespoons of Parmesan on top of that.
6. Now, repeat, pasta, Ricotta, Eggplant, Marinara, Cheese. Note eggplant, comes before sauce, in this half.
Bake in the oven for 25 minutes. (I basically layered it like lasagna.)
Mr Food speaks:
Layer half the ziti mixture in the prepared baking dish then 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese, half the eggplant, and 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese; repeat layers. Top with reserved 1 cup spaghetti sauce the remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella, and remaining Parmesan cheese.
Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes, or until heated through. (Mine was too brown at 30 minutes so it would be good to check it, before that time.
This was delicious. The eggplant was a nice bite in the middle. The Ricotta was the binding ingredient. It was soft and inclusive. My husband made it clear, he hoped to see it, on our table, again.