I’m having a love affair with pasta at the moment. Pasta with rich comforting sauces. Sauces full of things that are good for you. Like this one, it’s got tonnes of flavour, is full of vegetables and the sauce can be used in lots of different ways.
For example, you could use it in a vegetarian lasange in place of the usual mince based sauces as the texture is sort of ‘meaty’ thanks to the blitzed eggplant. I process some of the roasted eggplant to achieve that ragu texture and then also leave some bits in chunks because I like the contrast and actually being able to see the eggplant. You could just blitz the whole lot if you can’t be bothered putting some aside though.
You do not have to eat spelt penne with this. You can choose any pasta you please, you might even want to have it with zoodles if you’re looking for a wheat free, lower calorie alternative.
Roasting the eggplant first is super important as it’s where all the flavour in this sauce comes from.
You can easily double the recipe if your feeding a crowd or just love to stock your freezer. If you can only buy the big bottle of tomato pasata the rest will keep in the fridge for a few days and you can use it on pizza bases or in baked eggs, or even as a substitute for the tomatoes in this dahl. Otherwise just freeze it and use it next time you’re making this!
I love having this with a rocket and olive salad dressed really simply with some olive oil and balsamic.
2 medium eggplants, cut into a 1-2cm dice
1 Tbs dried chilli flakes (use less if ou’re not a chilli fan)
1 Tbs dried oregano
2 garlic cloves , skin on
1 tsp salt
1 Tbs olive oil
1 cup tomato pasata
1/4 cup water
1 Tbs olive oil
1 stick celery, finely diced
1 small carrot, finely diced
1/2 cup dry white wine (can leave out if you don’t have on hand)
1 400g can of crushed tomatoes (BPA free!)
1/2 cup basil leaves (to serve)
Freshly shaved parmesan (to serve)
500g spelt penne
Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
In a large bowl combine the eggplant, chilli flakes, oregano and salt. Toss to coat the eggplant, drizzle over olive oil and toss again. Spread in a single layer on your baking tray, add garlic cloves and roast for 35 minutes or until eggplant is soft and beginning to colour.
Remove eggplant from the oven. Put aside 1 cup of it and then transfer the rest to a blender, squeeze the garlic cloves from their skin into the blender. Add 1/2 the passata and all the water. Pulse until the egg plant is broken up and amalgamated with the tomato but not a completely smooth puree.
Meanwhile put a medium sized sauce pan on medium heat and add the remaining olive oil. Once hot add the celery and carrot and cook until sot, you may need to add some water if it gets dry. Add the wine and cook until it’s reduced by half, this should happen fairly quickly. Add the eggplant and tomato mixture along with the remaining passata and the canned tomatoes. Stir to combine, turn heat down to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.
Cook your pasta according to packet directions. Once cooked drain and combine with the sauce, do not add all the sauce at once, add half stir to coat and then keep adding more until you’re happy with your ratio. You don’t want your pasta drowning. You shouldn’t have extra but eggplants come in different sizes so if you do don’t worry! Extra sauce can go on top or be used another day (makes a great base for baked eggs or toastie filling!).
To serve, scatter basil leaves over top and sprinkle with shave parmesan. A drizzle of olive oil and a crack of black pepper is also lovely.