Baked Vegetarian Penne Pasta alla Siciliana with Smoked Mozzarella & Grilled Eggplant

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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This is rich & comforting & easy to make.  I made the sauce but you could use a jar of your favorite kind.  I used real cheese – you can use a vegan alternative – or even omit it.    If you go with no cheese – there is no reason to bake it & you can serve it right from the stove top.  The real key to this is grilling the eggplant – to get rid of that texture & add a smokiness that adds to the autumnal flavors of this dish.

Baked Vegetarian Penna Pasta alla Siciliana with Smoked Mozzarella & Grilled Eggplant

Serve 4 well


1 lb dry pasta

Olive oil

1 eggplant – sliced into 1/2 inch rounds

28 oz chopped tomatoes

6-10 cherry tomatoes – quartered (optional)

1-6 garlic cloves (to taste) – chopped

8 oz smoked mozzarella – grated

1 cup regular (or more smoked) mozzarella – grated

1 tsp – 1 TBS crushed red pepper (to taste)

1 tsp oregano

1/4 cup fresh parsley – chopped

1/4 cup fresh basil – chopped


Garnish: more grated cheese (Parmesan or Asiago), chopped fresh basil or parsley






Heat the oven (if you are using cheese) to 350 degrees.

Cook & drain the pasta.

Either brush the eggplant with olive oil r spray with cooking spray & grill (or a grill or grill pan) – for a few minutes on each side until they are nicely grilled.  Cool & chop.



Heat a TBS or so of olive oil in a stock pan.  When hot – add the garlic & cook one minute.  Add the chopped tomatoes, crushed red pepper, oregano, cherry tomatoes, eggplant, basil & parsley.  Cook on low for a while until it thickens & the flavors meld.  Maybe 20 minutes or so.  Add the cooked pasta & toss.  If not using cheese – serve & garnish once it is heated through.








If using cheese – add the 8 oz grated smoked mozzarella & toss.  Put it into a greased casserole & top with the remaining cup of grated cheese.  Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the cheese is melted & bubbling.

Garnish with cheese or herbs & serve!












Pasta alla Crudaiola with Heirloom Tomatoes and Burrata

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2015

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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This is the easiest recipe EVER!  The only cooking involved is boiling the pasta.  This is a delicious dish & can be made vegan by simply omitting the burrata – because it doesn’t really need it – but if you are a cheese lover – burrata is a creamy, decadent delight!  I used heirloom tomatoes (actually 2 heirloom & 1 regular) but any tomatoes will do.  Fresh & light & easy.  Yum!

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Pasta alla Crudaiola with Heirloom Tomatoes & Burrata

serves 2


1/2 lb pasta (I used orrecchiette)

3 tomatoes – halved – at room temperature (never refrigerate tomatoes)

1-2 TBS olive oil

garlic to taste – minced (I used 2 cloves)

2 balls burrata (more or less – your call) – at room temperature

Basil – torn by hand (quantity – your call)


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Halve the tomatoes & poke or squeeze the majority of the seeds out.  Dice the tomatoes.

Mince the garlic.  Put the tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, some shredded basil & S&P in a bowl & let the flavors combine – at room temperature – for an hour.

Cook your pasta.  Drain & toss with the tomatoes.  Plate it & add the burrata.  Bust into the burrata & blend for a fresh & creamy sensation!  Garnish with extra basil & lots of freshly cracked pepper.

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No Carb & 120 Calorie – Shirataki Pasta Alla Checca


All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.


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These frigging noodles are amazing!!!  I do want to say, though, that these noodles are to pasta what veggie dogs are to hotdogs – a really effective & healthy substitute for something not that healthy – but no blindfolded person would ever mistake the substitute for the real thing.  We learn to make these adjustments in our expectations, suspend our disbelief, we make these culinary compromises, all the time – with diet sodas & veggie burgers & low fat mayo & vegan cheeses.

There are two kinds of these Shirataki – the ones made from yam flour with a clear, glass noodle result and zero calories & these tofu ones that cook up with a Cup-O-Noodle appearance with 40 calories a package. There are some carbs – a total of 6 grams in the package of these tofu ones.  I used two packages – so I had 12 grams of carbohydrates & 80 calories.  That is nothing for what seems like a large bowl of angel hair pasta.  These noodles are not as doughy as real pasta.  These, too, (as with the yam version I used in my Zero Calorie Faux Pho) have a sort of rice noodle snap to them but it isn’t off-putting.  And – these also have the icky fish smell when you open them but boiling the noodles eliminates that completely.  And, at $2.19 per package – these are an economical as well as a very waist-friendly option for those of us hoping to lose a few extra pounds we’ve picked up along the way.



No Carb & 120 Calorie – Shirataki Pasta Alla Checca


2 packages of Tofu Shirataki Angel Hair Noodles

2 cloves garlic – sliced very thin

1 tsp olive oil

1 small tomato – diced

Fresh basil – shredded

S&P to taste

Parmesan – optional (if you feel like a calorie splurge!)



Open the noodles, drain & rinse them and boil them.

In a small pan, heat the olive oil.  Add the garlic & saute until fragrant – maybe a minute or two – being careful not to burn it.  Add the diced tomatoes & saute until heated through.

Drain the noodles & toss in with the tomatoes & garlic & stir.  Add salt & lots of fresh cracked pepper.  Serve with fresh basil & Parmesan.