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Roasted Vegetable & Pasta Bake

Paula Nemzek of KCTS 9
Episode: KCTS 9 Cooks: Kitchen Classics
A make-this-again family favorite, with a topping like a crunchy un-blended pesto. Roasting the veggies in advance gives this dish a rich flavor base.
serves 8-10
2 medium eggplants (13/4 to 2 pounds total), cut into 1-inch cubes
2 red bell peppers, cut into 1/2-inch squares
2 cups grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
6 large garlic cloves, minced, divided
1/3 cup olive oil
2 cups fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced, divided
1 cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted, and roughly chopped
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 cup half-and-half
1 tablespoon tomato paste (optional)
1 pound rigatoni or similar pasta, such as penne
1/2 pound mozzarella cheese, shredded or cut in small cubes
salt and pepper to taste
Heat oven to 425 degrees. Put a large pot of water on to boil.
To a very large mixing bowl, add prepared eggplant, peppers, tomatoes and garlic. Drizzle veggies with oil, toss to coat, and transfer to a large rimmed nonstick baking sheet (or spray a regular sheet with nonstick spray). Save the bowl. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast until tender, about 35 minutes, stirring once at the halfway mark. When you remove the veggies from the oven, lower heat to 350 degrees.
For the topping, in a bowl combine 2/3 cup basil, 1/2 cup Parmesan, pine nuts and one-third of the garlic. Set aside.
In the same bowl used for the veggies, blend tomatoes with half-and-half, the tomato paste, and the remaining basil and garlic. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Cook rigatoni just until al dente, usually 2 minutes less than recommended on the package. Drain and add noodles to the tomato mixture. Toss with the roasted veggies and remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan
Transfer mixture to a big roaster pan (about 10 x 14 inches, the next size up from a 9 x 13), and sprinkle with mozzarella and topping mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until heated through. Let stand 5 minutes before serving with a nice green salad.