We asked our daughter and her boyfriend over for dinner on sorta short notice and I had about 45 minutes to put something together. There was an eggplant leftover from a batch of Eggplant Lasagna the other night and we always have some chicken in the freezer. They both like pasta and our Marinara Sauce (of course) so I threw together some Baked Rigatoni with Chicken and Eggplant.
Rigatoni is a short, large pasta noodle but you can use just about any kind of pasta you want. Get a pot of salted water on to boil and start the oven to preheating at 350F. When the water starts to boil add about half of a 1 lb. box of the pasta and stir it right away. Also stir it a few times as it cooks. When it is just slightly softened turn the heat off and let it sit.
While the pasta routine is carrying on put a large skillet on medium high and add 2 tbsp. of olive oil. Cut two boneless skinless chicken breasts (or six boneless skinless thighs) into about half inch cubes. Put the chicken in the pan and toss right away. Keep tossing regularly as you get after the eggplant.
Cut the ends off of a small eggplant and cut it up into the same size cubes as the chicken. If you only have a larger eggplant use half and save the unused half in the fridge with some plastic wrap covering the exposed part to keep it from turning brown. Add the eggplant to the pan and toss right away. Sprinkle about a tbsp. each of salt and pepper. Toss regularly so it all cooks evenly.
When the edges of the chicken and eggplant start to brown turn off the heat.
In a 9″ x 13″ baking pan very thinly spread some marinara sauce or canned marinara sauce, Optional, put some extra marinara in a sauce pan and gently heat it up for topping off the servings. Then about a half of the pasta then about a half of the chicken/eggplant. Then a thin layer of any good cheese you have on hand. We had some ricotta left over from a batch of Cheater Cannoli the other night. Repeat the layer routine and this time with some sliced mozzarella. Thinly spread some sauce over the top and sprinkle some parmesan cheese all over it. Drizzle with some olive oil. Cover it with a piece of aluminum foil big enough to wrap it around the edges. Put it in the oven and bake it for about 20 minutes with the foil on. Remove the foil and bake it about another 10 minutes or until the mozzarella has melted and just starts to bubble.
Serve up your Baked Rigatoni! Of course with some Chianti and some of your good homemade bread.