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Macaroni Beaucaire

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From the Essential Pépin tv series, Episode 108: Cozy Carbs

From the small town of Beaucaire in Provence, this is actually two dishes incorporated into one. The elbow macaroni, which is tossed with olive oil, Parmesan cheese, seasonings, and chives, can be served as is. But I’ve expanded on it by layering thin slices of sautéed eggplant and tomato underneath and on top of the pasta, then finishing the dish with shredded cheddar cheese. —Jacques Pépin

Serves 6

8 ounces elbow macaroni
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese or Gruyère or Emmenthaler
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup minced fresh chives

About 1/2 cup canola oil
2 eggplants (about 1 1/2 pounds total), trimmed and each cut lengthwise into 6 slices about 1/2 inch thick
About 1/2 teaspoon salt
3 ripe tomatoes (about 1 pound), cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (about 4 ounces)


Bring 4 quarts of salted water to a boil in a large pot. Add the macaroni and stir frequently until the water returns to a boil, so the elbows don’t stick to the bottom of the pot. Cook the macaroni for about 15 minutes, until just tender but still slightly al dente.

Scoop out about 3/4 cup of the cooking liquid and place it in a bowl large enough to hold the macaroni, then drain the elbows. Add the olive oil, Parmesan, salt, and pepper to the cooking liquid in the bowl and mix well, then add the macaroni and chives and mix well again. Set aside.

FOR THE VEGETABLES: Heat 2 tablespoons of the canola oil in a large skillet. When it is hot, add a few of the eggplant slices in one layer, sprinkle them with a little salt, and cook for 2 1/2 to 3 minutes on each side, until soft and nicely browned. Remove with a slotted spoon and put on a plate. Repeat with the remaining eggplant, adding more oil to the pan as necessary.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Reserve the 6 nicest slices of eggplant and half of the tomato slices (the prettiest ones) and arrange the remainder of the vegetables in a 14-by-10-inch gratin dish so they completely cover the bottom. Distribute the macaroni evenly on top and arrange the reserved eggplant and tomato slices in an alternating pattern over the macaroni. Sprinkle with the shredded cheese. (The dish can be prepared a few hours ahead to this point and refrigerated.)

Bake the gratin for 20 minutes (25 to 30 if the dish has been refrigerated), or until the cheese has melted and the macaroni is heated through. Serve immediately.

Copyright © 2011 by Jacques Pépin. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

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