It all started with an aubergine.
This year Mum’s been even more ambitious than usual in the garden, and we have two aubergine plants. This was our first aubergine, and I was asked to ‘cook something’ with it.
I wanted something that would showcase all the yumminess of the aubergine: bursting with flavour but still making for light eating. So I settled on this.
Ingredients (serves 4):
– 1 aubergine
– 1 onion
– 2 cloves garlic
– 4 tomatoes
– 400g tin chopped tomatoes
– 2tsp red pesto
– 1tbsp single cream
– handful fresh basil
– salt and pepper, to taste
– 300g tagliatelle, or your choice of pasta
– handful pine nuts (optional)
– ricotta, to serve
1. Start by slicing the aubergine – you want each slice to be about 1cm thick – then cut each slice into eight. In a large frying pan, heat enough olive oil to cover the base of the pan, then add as much of the aubergine as you can without any pieces overlapping.
2. Let the aubergine fry until it starts to colour (1-2 minutes), then flip the pieces over and do the same on the other side. They should begin to go slightly crisp, but watch they don’t burn. Once cooked, transfer to a kitchen-towel-covered plate to allow any excess oil to drain. Do this for the whole aubergine.
3. Chop the onion into thin slices, and peel and grate the garlic cloves. Once the aubergine’s done, add these to the vacated frying pan and cook for about five minutes, until the onion’s beginning to soften.
4. Chop the tomatoes into small pieces (think the size of a thumbnail), then add to the pan with the onion and garlic. Allow this to cook for a few more minutes, then turn down the heat and put on a lid (if you don’t have one, use tin foil). Allow everything to simmer for ten minutes.
5. To the pan, add the chopped tomatoes, the aubergine, the red pesto and half of the basil. Stir everything together, then replace the lid for a further twenty minutes, stirring halfway through to make sure nothing catches.
6. Once the twenty minutes is up, remove the lid to allow your sauce to reduce slightly. This is a good time to cook your pasta, and to toast your pine nuts, if using (tip into a small frying pan without any fat, put onto a medium heat and stir often until golden). Add the cream and the rest of the basil, and season to taste.
7. Stir the sauce into the pasta, and finish by sprinkling over the toasted pine nuts and ricotta.