I am not a hot hot chilli lover, I like background warmth but value the ability of my tongue to taste flavours. So this pasta recipe by Jamie Oliver fits the bill. Aubergines, yes. Chilli, red, yes. Tomatoes, yes. The flavour is deep and rich, thanks to the burbling time which intensifies the tomatoey-ness [sorry, that doesn’t look like a real word but I hope you know what I mean]. However, this is not a pasta sauce to knock together in ten minutes when you need to eat quickly. There is a lot going on, so make it at the weekend when you have time to bumble around the kitchen, perhaps leaf through some recipe books and choose a cake to make, while the sauce burbles and the aubergines steam. Serves 4
1-2 fresh red chillis, de-seeded and finely chopped
40g pine nuts
2 cloves garlic
30g fresh basil
2 x 400g tins of whole plum tomatoes
your pasta of choice
200g ricotta cheese [I used cottage cheese]
To prepare the aubergines, cut off the stalk and halve lengthways. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil, and place a steaming basket over the top [either bamboo, or the folding metal type]. Place the aubergine halves in the steamer, skin side up, and replace the lid. Steam for 25 minutes or until the aubergine is soft and tender. Drain, and set aside. Once the aubergine has cooled slightly, chop it into 1cm cubes.Prepare the toppings. Lightly toast the pine nuts in a large casserole pan over a medium heat. When browned, tip them into a pestle and mortar, crush, then set aside. Sort the basil, remove the stalks, chop, and save. Save a handful of the prettiest leaves for garnish, keep the rest to be added to the sauce. To make the sauce, first peel and finely slice the garlic. Add a tablespoon of olive oil to the casserole pan, and heat over a medium flame. Add the garlic and basil stalks, cook gently until pale golden. Add the chopped chillis and tinned tomatoes, breaking up with a spoon. Fill one tin with water and add to the casserole [top]. Season to taste. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 20 minutes [above]. Add the aubergine and fresh basil [below] and cook for a further 10 minutes until rich and thick. Meanwhile, cook your chosen pasta. Drain. Once the pasta sauce is rich and thick [above], add the pasta and ricotta cheese. Serve with the pine nuts and remaining basil leaves scattered over the top, and a grating of Parmesan.
When I make this again, I will do two things differently:-
- instead of steaming the chilli, I will simply remove the seeds, chop it, and add it to the tomatoes;
- I added one tin of water to the tomato sauce, not two as Jamie’s recipe states.
This recipe is adapted from Jamie Oliver’s ‘Everyday Super Food’ [UK: Michael Joseph]