This is definitely a recipe that ticks all the boxes! I didn’t intend to post the recipe because it’s a classic Sicilian dish, nothing new, it’s available online and it’s in lots of cookbooks but I am guilty of assuming that anyone can knock up a tasty supper until I post on my stories and instagram feed then get messages asking if I will be sharing what I’ve posted! I’m always happy to share and I obviously have to get out of the mindset that I think I’m teaching a granny how to suck eggs!!! Having said that I do only post recipes I think are easily achievable without stress and deliver on flavour. You can play around a bit with this recipe, so below I will give you some of the alternative ingredients that I’ve used as well as the recipe I based this one on.
I would suggest that you at least double up and freeze some of the sauce so you have it ready for when you’re up to your eyes in all things Christmas! Then all you will have to do is make a batch of the aubergines that can be made a day in advance, then just add fresh basil, shavings of pecorino and of course a glass of red!
This sauce works with spaghetti or I sometimes use rigatoni so don’t worry to much about what pasta you use, just use what you like or what you have in the larder. I sometimes use dried chilli flakes but today I used dried ancho chilli and it was delicious so again don’t fret about running around trying to find ancho chillies use flakes, although I have seen them in Waitrose ( own brand ) I use plum tomatoes and I don’t break them up too much but you can of course use chopped. Try to get good quality tinned tomatoes because they are the main ingredient. I’ll mention all this again below so you have options. Okay lets get to it!
You will need: sauté pan for the sauce, preheated oven 220 fan 2 baking sheets
- 2 large aubergines
- 4 cloves of garlic finely sliced
- 1 dried ancho chilli or 1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
- 2 x tinned plum tomatoes or chopped
- 4 large sprigs fresh oregano 1 heaped teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon caster sugar
- Olive oil for the aubergines and the sauce
- Spaghetti, rigatoni or pasta of choice
- Pecorino for adding to the dish and for adding before serving
- Fresh basil for adding to the dish and for addling before serving
- Salt and black pepper
You can, if you want shave alternating lines down the aubergines ( I do ) before slicing them into 1cm thick rounds, Ottolenghi does this, so if it’s good enough for him it’s good enough for me! Place them in a bowl and add about 3 tablespoons of light olive oil, add salt and a good grinding of black pepper. Toss them around then place them in a single layer between two baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Roast for about 30 mins or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. These can be kept in the fridge for 24 hrs if you want to get ahead.
Now add 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a sauté pan along with the sliced garlic and your choice of dried chill, if you’re using ancho chilli then just roughly cut it up, I added most of the seeds. On a med high heat, fry for 1-2 mins until the garlic is golden stirring constantly. Don’t let the garlic burn, keep an eye on it.
Add the tins of tomatoes, oregano sprigs ( or dried ) sugar and season well with salt and black pepper. Reduce heat to med low and cook for 10 mins, until the sauce is thick. If you’ve used fresh oregano remove the stalks now and stir in the cooked aubergines, set to one side ready to add the pasta.( If you’re not serving immediately you can keep the sauce in the fridge for up to 5 days or freeze at this point but don’t add the aubergines, the aubergines can be kept in the fridge for a day. Then you just carry on as above.)
Cook your pasta as per packet instruction but follow the al dente timings. When the pasta is ready and before straining keep back some of the cooking water, which is something you should always try and get into the habit of doing!! Add the pasta to the sauce and mix well, if the sauce has become to thick add a couple of tablespoons of the pasta water that you have kept. Add some pecorino shavings, do this with a vegetable peeler, also add some of the basil leaves ( torn not cut! ) Keep some of the cheese along with basil leaves back to add before serving.
Divide the pasta between four warmed pasta bowls, then top with the pecorino shavings and torn basil leaves you’ve saved and a drizzle of olive oil. Pour wine and enjoy!
Don’t forget to let me know if you try it!