Photo: Randy Mayor; Styling: Sabrina Bone
8 servings (serving size: about 2 cups)

“Now that I am retired, I have more time to cook. My husband and I love to travel, and this dish was inspired by a trip to Italy. Pancetta is Italian bacon and comes in a sausagelike roll; it lends a salty bite to the marinara.â€� —Glenda Mann, Longview, TX

How to Make It

Step 1

Arrange eggplant on several layers of heavy-duty paper towels. Sprinkle eggplant with 1 teaspoon kosher salt; let stand 15 minutes. Pat dry with additional paper towels.

Step 2

Preheat oven to 450°.

Step 3

Arrange eggplant in a single layer on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 450° for 30 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring after 15 minutes. Remove from baking sheet; cool.

Step 4

Cook pancetta in a Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp. Add onion, oil, and garlic to pan; cook 6 minutes or until onion is lightly browned, stirring frequently. Add wine to pan; cook until liquid evaporates, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Stir in basil, oregano, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper, and diced tomatoes. Bring to a simmer over medium heat; partially cover and cook 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; stir in eggplant.

Step 5

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain pasta in a colander over a bowl, reserving 1/4 cup cooking water. Add pasta and reserved 1/4 cup cooking water to tomato mixture; stir well. Spoon pasta mixture into a 13 x 9–inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle evenly with fontina.

Step 6

Place baguette in a food processor; pulse 10 times or until coarse crumbs measure 1 1/2 cups. Add Parmesan to processor; pulse 5 times. Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture evenly over fontina.

Step 7

Bake at 450° for 12 minutes or until cheese melts and begins to brown.

Step 8

Wine note: With an American take on an Italian dish, why not try an American take on a red Italian wine, like Tamás Estates Sangiovese 2005 ($14), an American wine made from the same grape as Italian Chianti. With its medium body and plentiful acidity, sangiovese is a classic choice with all tomato dishes, and offers tart cherry and sweet vanilla flavors that nicely balance each other. —Jeffery Lindenmuth

Ratings & Reviews

veryslowcook's Review

July 22, 2013
Good dish for feeding a group. Pancetta flavor was almost not there. Skipped the breadcrumbs. Used the same dish for baking the eggplant and for baking the casserole.

megrw82's Review

June 02, 2013
I thought this recipe was really good. I think it would be better with more eggplant.

BabyCakes33's Review

September 04, 2011
We loved this recipe- a great way to use end-of-the-summer eggplant! I conserved dishes by browning, making the sauce, and baking it in my (Tramontina) braising pan. It was big enough to handle the job.

dixgrl's Review

August 27, 2011
We loved this! It was worth the effort for sure. My husband ate all of the leftovers and there was none left for me.

katiebakes's Review

June 17, 2010
We loved this recipe! It was a little complicated, but well worth the effort. I only used half the amount of cayenne pepper called for, and it had a nice heat. Added an additional tbsp. of fresh basil. Would make again.

mrsrogo's Review

March 27, 2010
Sure, it makes a lot of dishes, but it was totally worth it! We really loved it. The only change I would make is to add more eggplant (but that's just a personal preference). This is a keeper!