Roberto Donna?s Baked Shells with Ricotta and Eggplant
Washington, DC, chef and restaurateur Roberto Donna is committed to introducing others to the real flavors of Italy. Born in Torino, the Piedmont region of Italy, Donna is the recipient of the 1996 James Beard Award for Best Chef in the Mid-Atlantic and is Chairman of the Gruppo Ristoratori Italiani, an organization dedicated to presenting authentic Italian
food in the United States. As an active member of Share Our Strength and the James Beard Foundation, he participates in numerous charity events nationwide. This main course comes together quickly for a delicious low-cal Italian meal.
- 8 oz. peeled and cubed eggplant, sprinkled with 1 Tbs. olive oil
- 8 oz. low-fat ricotta cheese
- 2 Tbs. capers, drained, optional
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 12 fresh basil leaves
- 12 jumbo shells, cooked, drained and cooled
- 2 Tbs. olive oil
- 1 ½ cups canned plum tomatoes
- ½ cup tomato sauce from plum tomatoes
- ½ cup roasted red bell peppers, peeled and seeded
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 4 Tbs. nonfat sour cream
- 4 Tbs. grated Parmesan, for garnish, optional
- Italian parsley leaves for garnish
- Preheat oven to 450F.
- Place eggplant cubes on nonstick baking sheet, and roast about 15 minutes, or until crisped and golden. Remove from oven. Mix ricotta with capers and eggplant cubes in mixing bowl. Season with salt, pepper and 4 minced basil leaves. Set aside.
- Reduce oven temperature to 400F.
- Line baking dish with foil, and spray with nonstick vegetable spray. Fill each shell with about 1 tablespoon cheese mixture, dividing filling evenly among shells. Place in pan, and brush shells with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Bake 10 minutes until crisped.
- Meanwhile, purée tomatoes, tomato sauce, red peppers, remaining basil, olive oil and garlic in food processor. Season with salt and pepper, and stir in sour cream. Heat mixture over low heat until warmed through. Remove and set aside.
- To serve, spoon 2 to 3 tablespoons of sauce on dish, and place 3 stuffed shells on top. Drizzle shells with extra sauce, and garnish with Parmesan cheese, if using, and parsley. Refrigerate leftovers. To reheat, place 3 shells on sauce on microwavable plate or bowl, cover with glass bowl or microwavable plastic wrap and microwave 2 minutes.
Chef Donna’s hometown is in the Piedmont region of Italy in the upper northwest corner of the country. Their most age-worthy red wine variety is Nebbiolo, and the top-producing sub-regions for Nebbiolo are Barolo and Barbaresco. For this dish, try a Nebbiolo-based wine such as Marchesi di Gresy Villa Martis from either of those areas.