3 med. eggplants, approx. 2 1/2 – 3 lbs.
1 tbsp. salt
1 tsp. olive oil
1/2 lb. rigatoni, penne or some other short, stout pasta
1 1/2 c. tomato sauce
2 tbsp. chopped basil
10 almonds, blanched, peeled & chopped
1/2 c. freshly grated Parmesan
Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 lb. caciocavallo or sharp provolone cheese, thinly sliced
Peel the eggplants, slice lengthwise approximately 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick, sprinkle all over with salt and place in a colander to drain for 30 minutes.
Rinse all the salt off the eggplant slices, pat them dry between paper towels and broil them until browned on both sides.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Generously oil a 9″ square baking dish.
Cut the eggplants into pieces roughly the size of the pasta you intend to use and set aside.
Bring 4 quarts of salted water to a rapid boil, stir in the pasta and cook until almost al dente. The pasta should be under done. Drain thoroughly and transfer to a large mixing bowl. Combine the tomato sauce with the basil. Add to the pasta half the eggplant pieces, half the chopped almonds, half the tomato sauce, 1/4 cup of Parmesan, salt and pepper and combine well. Place the mixture in the prepared baking dish and press down firmly.
On top of the mixture first spread the remaining eggplant, then the almonds, and finally the tomato sauce. Cover with the thinly sliced caciocavallo or provolone, sprinkle the remaining Parmesan on top, cover with foil and bake in the preheated oven until the cheese melts. Remove the foil and bake for another 5 or 10 minutes to brown. Remove from the oven and allow it to rest for 5 minutes, then serve. Serves 4.