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In Born Round (it's one of Amazon's recommended books for August!) former New York Times restaurant critic Frank Bruni gorgeously describes his grandmother’s signature dish, a casserole made with many alternating layers of penne and thinly sliced fried eggplant—pasta meets eggplant Parmesan. As he writes, “The eggplant was the tough part, the messy part, especially if you were making it for dozens of people, and Grandma was always making that much.” It wasn’t his favorite dish growing up—only later in life did he come to love the silky, crisp-fried eggplant rounds mixed with pasta and tossed with tomato sauce and salty pecorino cheese. But that wasn’t a problem: “At a Bruni family gathering, you could edit out a dish and there were still plenty of choices.” Plus it was a favorite of his father’s, so Bruni knew it would stick around. As he recently told Food & Wine, “The meat dish could change, but once there was an established pasta dish, that was sacrosanct.” Bruni shares the recipe exclusively with F&W here.