On a quest to use up both tomatoes and eggplant, I happened upon this lovely recipe. I didn’t use rigatoni or mozzarella, but it was good all the same.
- 1 firm ripe pink, black, or white eggplant
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
- 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
- Two 14-ounce cans good-quality plum tomatoes [I used a mixture of canned and fresh]
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 to 2 fresh or dried chilies, chopped or crumbled, optional
- Bunch fresh basil, leaves ripped and stalks sliced
- 4 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1 pound rigatoni or penne
- 7 ounces cow’s-milk mozzarella [I used crumbled bleu cheese instead]
- 1 piece Parmesan cheese, for grating
- Remove both ends of the eggplant and slice it into 1/2 inch slices, then slice these across and finely dice into 1/2 inch cubes.
- Now, put a large saucepan on the heat and drizzle in 4 to 5 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil. When it’s hot, add the cubes of eggplant, and as soon as they hit the pan stir them around with a spoon so they are delicately coated with the oil and not soaked on one side only. Cook for about 7 or 8 minutes on a medium heat.
- Then add the garlic and onion. When they have a little color, add the canned tomatoes and the balsamic vinegar. Stir around and season carefully with salt and pepper. Optionally, add some chopped fresh or crumbled dried chili. Add the basil stalks, and simmer the sauce for around 15 minutes, then add the cream.
- While the sauce is simmering, bring a large pan of salted water to a boil and add the pasta, cook according to the package instructions until it is soft but still holding its shape, then drain it, saving a little of the cooking water.
- At this point add the tomato sauce to the pasta. Season carefully to taste with salt and pepper. When all my guests are sitting round the table, I take the pan to the table, tear up the mozzarella and the fresh basil, and fold these in nicely for 30 seconds. Then very quickly serve into bowls. Serve at the table with a block of Parmesan cheese and a grater so that everyone can help themselves.
–Recipe courtesy Leite’s Culinaria/Jamie Oliver.