Eggplant and Pasta Charlotte (version II)

2 eggplants (each about 1/2 pound)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (approx) extra-virgin olive oil
5 cups rigatoni pasta
1 jar herbed pasta sauce
2 cups shredded mozzarella, 8 ounces
1/2 cup shredded Asiago cheese
1/3 cup grated Romano cheese
1/2 teaspoon each dried thyme and pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary, crumbled
2 tablespoons dried bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 375ºF

Cut eggplant lengthwise into 1/4-inch thick slices. Layer in colander, sprinkling each with salt. Let stand for 30 minutes. Rinse each layer well to remove salt and pat dry.

In skillet, heat some of the oil over medium heat. Fry eggplant slices, a few at a time, until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side, adding more oil as necessary,

Drain well on paper towels.

Meanwhile, in large pot of boiling salted water, cook rigatoni for about 7 minutes or until tender but very firm. Drain well and return to pot. Add pasta sauce and mozzarella, Asiago and Romano cheeses; stir to combine. Stir in thyme, pepper and rosemary; set aside.

Lightly brush 8-1/2-inch springform pan with olive oil. Sprinkle with half of the bread crumbs. Line side of pan with overlapping pieces of eggplant, making sure each extends to rim of pan and leaving no gaps. Cover bottom with overlapping slices of eggplant. Spoon pasta mixture into pan, pressing down lightly. Sprinkle with remaining breadcrumbs. Cover with foil.

Bake in center of oven for about 30 minutes or until steaming. Let stand for 15 minutes. Run tip of knife around pan to loosen charlotte. Invert onto serving platter and unmold.



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