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Penne with eggplant mozzarella sauce

August 3, 2010 No Comments

Most mornings I start the cooking day with either (a) total cooking inspiration or (b) total cooking lake of inspiration. The desire is there to create something scrumptious but nothing, so I head to my trusted and loved cook books… and lets just say I have a few… so that thought alone is a daunting one but when every I have some down time I grab a couple of my cook books and go through them, page by page, and when I hit something that looks totaly mouth watering I book mark it with a post-it-note. You can tell my favorite cook books because it has post-it-notes poking out from every second page. So I don’t leave the choice to the last minute. At any given moment there is a preselected recipe just waiting for my day of lake of inspiration to be brought to life, and this was one of those days.

I check my pantry, I check my fridge… with the stocktake in my head I try to recall some of the recipes that stand out in my mind that might suit. This morning Eggplants and I remembered a Jamie Oliver recipe for an eggplant sauce for rigatoni pasta. Naturally there is always a difference to my end product, always making changes that I think would help the dish work more to my liking. So here is my version of his rigatoni with sweet tomatoes, aubergine and mozzarella.

This is comfort food at its best. No diet tonight!

Serves 4

  • 1 Large ripe, firm (in season) eggplant
  • 2 Cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 Onion, chopped
  • 2 x 400g canned tomatoes (diced)
  • Salt and chilli (pepper if you prefer. but i have to say I love the chilli taste in it. I personally don’t usually use both).
  • 1 bunch of fresh basil, leaves ripped of stalks and stalks sliced
  • 4 Tbls thick cream
  • 500g penne
  • 200g cows mozzarella
  • Grated Parmesan to serve

Dice eggplant into 1cm cubes. Unless the eggplant is fresh and in season, basically if you see little black seeds inside its a good idea to draw the bitterness out of it but seasoning it with plenty of salt (this wont make it salty as the salt will drip away) and sit it in a collender and allow the bitter water to be drawn out of it by the salt. Do this an hour or so in advance. Otherwise just try to get a fresh firm eggplant.

Heat oil up in pan and add chilli (if you like chilli. I do!) and eggplant. Stir well so that every piece of eggplant is coated with oil. Cook for about 7 mins on a medium heat.

Add garlic and onion, stir until it has a ting of colour and add tomatoes. Stir and season with salt (or pepper if you have not previously added chilli). Add basil stalkes and simmer on low heat, covered for 15 minutes.

Once the sauce had cooked for 15 mins, add cream, stir and simmer for 1 min and turn off.

While the sauce simmers start boiling the water for the pasta. Make it nice and salty. Cook penne as per packet instructions. I usually always check the pasta a couple of mins before it says it is ready as I often find that some packet instructions overcook pasta. Italians LOVE their pasta ‘al dente’ so if you don’t like pasta that has playdough texture try testing it a couple of minutes in advance.

Once pasta is cooked and drained tose it into the pan with the sauce and turn on heat to low, fold through and in the meantime add pieces of mozzarella and about half the basil leaves (or desired amount). Keep turning pasta and you will notice the mozzarella starts to melt through the pasta…. YUM! The best part!!!

Serve and sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan.

Buon Appetito!

Tags: Jamie Oliver, Penne with eggplant mozzarella sauce

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