Baked eggplant and ricotta sformato with fregola and roasted tomato sauce


  • Serves 6 people

  • 3 medium eggplants (about 350gm each)
  • 250 ml (1 cup) extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
  • 200 gm fregola (see note)
  • 200 gm ricotta
  • ½ cup (loosely packed) basil leaves, coarsely chopped
  • ¼ cup (loosely packed) parsley leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2/3 cup finely grated parmesan
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup (loosely packed) basil leaves
  • Roasted tomato sauce
  • 6 ripe Roma tomatoes, cored, coarsely chopped
  • 1 small Spanish onion, coarsely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • ½ red capsicum, seeds removed and coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup (loosely packed) basil leaves, coarsely torn
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 200 gm canned tomatoes
  • 100 ml vegetable stock
  • 80 ml (1/3 cup) red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
01   For tomato sauce, preheat oven to 190C. Combine tomatoes, onion, garlic, capsicum, basil and olive oil in a baking dish and season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bake for 40 minutes or until tomato and capsicum are coloured and soft. Transfer tomato mixture to a heavy-based saucepan, add canned tomatoes, stock, vinegar and sugar and bring to the boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer gently for 40 minutes or until mixture has thickened. Cool slightly, place in a food processor and blend until smooth.
02   Trim ends from eggplant then slice lengthwise into 5mm-thick slices. Brush eggplant lightly with ½ cup olive oil. Heat a chargrill pan over a high heat and cook eggplant, in batches, for 2 minutes each side or until golden and cooked through. Drain on absorbent paper and cool.
03   Preheat oven to 180C. Scatter ricotta over a baking paper-lined oven tray and drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil. Scatter with 1 tbsp each of basil and parsley and bake for 20 minutes or until just starting to colour. Cool.
04   Cook fregola in boiling salted water according to packet directions or until tender. Drain and drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil, toss to combine and season to taste, cool. Place in a bowl, add remaining basil and parsley, garlic, egg, parmesan, 1/3 cup roasted tomato sauce, crumble over ricotta and stir gently to combine. Season to taste.
05   Line six 1 cup-capacity moulds with plastic wrap, then line with eggplant slices overlapping slightly. Spoon fregola mixture into prepared moulds and pack down firmly, fold eggplant over filling, then fold over plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.
06   Preheat oven to 160C. To serve, unmould sformato, remove the plastic wrap and transfer to a baking paper-lined oven tray, drizzle with remaining olive oil and bake for 20 minutes or until heated through. Heat remaining tomato sauce over medium heat for 5 minutes or until just heated through, then spoon onto plates, top with sformato, scatter with basil leaves and drizzle with extra olive oil, season to taste.
Note Fregola or fregolone is a Sardinian cous cous and is available from The Essential Ingredient and Italian delicatessens.
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