This is one of my favourite recipes (vegetarian or otherwise) and is really easy to prepare. There are various recipes with this name, some that include capers and black olives, some that are cooked in the oven, I make no representations on authenticity!
1 onion, very finely chopped 1 tin (400g) chopped tomatoes 1 clove garlic, crushed tsp sugar
1 aubergine, chopped into cubes (circa 1 inch pieces) 1 bunch (25g) basil leaves torn into pieces 125g mozzarella chopped or torn into small pieces
Penne pasta to serve
Preheat your oven to 190C.
Use a medium to large sized pan to cook the onions in olive oil for a few minutes over a medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for another couple of minutes, then add the tomatoes, sugar and some seasoning and turn the heat down, allowing the sauce to simmer for at least 40 minutes, an hour is better. I usually use a hand blender at the end just to loosen the sauce a little but you may prefer a more rustic consistency.
Meanwhile, place the aubergine cubes in a large oven dish and toss in a little olive oil. Cook in the oven for 40 minutes or until brown, tossing again half way through and scraping off any cubes that have welded themselves to the dish.
Cook the pasta in a large pan of salted water. Five minutes before it is ready, add the basil, mozzarella and aubergine to the sauce over a medium heat. Mix the contents of the pan quickly before the mozzarella begins to melt. Simmer until the pasta is plated and then scoop the sauce onto the pasta – the mozzarella strings sometimes make this a challenge! Serve with parmesan and a grind of black pepper.
A variation on this dish, which makes a great starter, is Melanzane. You don't need the pasta or the basil but make the tomato sauce as described. Instead of cubing the aubergine, slice it and coat lightly in flour, before frying until browned. In a small oven dish, make a layer of tomato sauce, then the aubergine and top with thin slices of mozzarella (or gratings) and a sprinkle of parmesan. Repeat the layering process to use up your ingredients and bake in an oven at 180C for 40 minutes. Serve with salad.