This comforting Southern Italian classic is elevated by getting some char on cherry tomatoes to add even more tomato flavour to the sauce. Given that it's springtime here we've gone for fresh green garlic but feel free to replace with two large cloves of garlic if you're making this any other time of the year.
Preparation time 30 minutes
Cooking time 30 minutes
Serves 2-3 people
INGREDIENTS 250g farfalle or other short pasta 150g cherry tomatoes 300ml canned tomato (¾ of a standard can) 1 medium sized aubergine 40g ricotta salata 3 sprigs of basil 2 stalks of green garlic Extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper to taste
EQUIPMENT Chopping board and knife Medium sized pot Medium sized saute or frying pan Rubber spatula or wooden spoon Strainer, sieve or colander Vegetable peeler or grater Baking tray lined with baking paper Mixing bowl
1. Begin by preparing your ingredients, cut the cherry tomatoes in half and place on some paper towel to absorb excess moisture. For the green garlic, chop into thin slices. To prepare the aubergine, slice off the stalk end and tail end of the vegetable and discard. Cut the aubergine into bite sized cubes or slices and season liberally with salt. Place them into a sieve set over a mixing bowl and allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to allow moisture and bitterness to be pulled out. Give them a light squeeze and pat them with paper kitchen towel to remove some excess moisture.
2. Place a baking tray in the oven and preheat to 200C. While that is preheating drizzle the aubergines with a generous lug of olive oil and coat well, add more oil as necessary as the aubergines absorb it quickly and you want them covered evenly!
3. Once the oven is preheated, remove the baking tray from the oven and immediately line with baking paper. Place the aubergine onto the tray and place into the oven. Allow to cook for 20 minutes or until the aubergine is tender and has browned somewhat.
4. While that is cooking, place a saute pan over medium high heat. After a minute or two add the cherry tomatoes cut side down into the pan and once they are all layed out, drizzle well with olive oil to accelerate their cooking process.
I prefer adding the oil after the tomatoes in this case because otherwise the oil would splatter quite vigorously as I’m trying to place tomatoes down in the pan.
5. Allow them to colour well and then remove from the pan. Add the chopped spring garlic to the pan with a pinch of salt and remove any fond from the bottom of the pan. Add a few teaspoons of water or white wine to help the process along if there is a lot of fond to remove.
The fond is the wonderful layer of browned food that has adhered itself to the bottom of the pan, this acts as a boost of flavour and colour to add to a sauce or stew.
6. Once the garlic is lightly cooked, add the can of tomato and 100ml of water. Scrape the bottom of the pan and add the stalks from the sprigs of basil, reserve the leaves for finishing. Season lightly with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Allow to simmer gently until reduced and thickened for roughly 20 minutes.
7. Add the roasted aubergine and the cherry tomatoes to the pan and simmer for 10 additional minutes until everything comes together. Adjust with salt and black pepper as necessary.
8. Half fill a medium sized pot with water and place over high heat until the water comes to a boil. Add enough salt until the water tastes salty, not quite as salty as the sea, but close! Allow the salt to dissolve and add the pasta. Gently stir to ensure that the pasta doesn’t stick together and cook for 10 minutes or until the pasta is almost cooked.
9. Strain the pasta and reserve a cup of the water the pasta was cooking in. Add the pasta back to the pot and add the tomato sauce. Add a few tablespoons of pasta water and a generous glug of olive oil. Stir while gently heating until the pasta finishes cooking and the sauce comes together.
10. Serve immediately with shavings of ricotta salata, made by using a vegetable peeler to take off strips of cheese and garnish with plenty of torn basil leaves.
and garnish with plenty of torn leaves.