Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Sluttishly Vegetarian: Aubergine Provencal

Christ, it's gone from "too cold to eat anything except stew" to "too hot to cook" with no happy in-between time. But I'm not someone who can survive on a salad or sandwich on a summer evening. If I don't have a hot meal I'll wake up hungry at 3am, craving an all-you-can-eat buffet.

So let's limit our time in the kitchen with this aubergine provencal on penne pasta. It's from Provence, a part of southeastern France that knows about hot hot heat. You'll be standing over the hob for less than 20 minutes. The lengthiest bit of prep is salting the aubergine, which might seem a bit of a faff but draws out the moisture and stops it turning bitter and soggy in the pan. If you get small aubergines, you can probably skip this step, but you'll notice a big improvement in taste and texture if you salt a large one.

This is a light, fresh dinner to enjoy with a glass of crisp white wine. That's surely the nicest bit of any recipe that calls for a splash of wine - the bottle's open now, it'd be a shame to waste it.

Aubergine provencal on penne pasta (serves 2)
You will need:
  • 1 aubergine
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 small glass of white wine
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • Small handful of olives, halved
  • 200g penne pasta
  • Small handful of basil leaves, chopped
Make it!
  1. Peel the aubergine in strips, leaving half the skin. Top and tail it, and cut into chunks (think bitesize pieces about 1.5cm thick). Pop them in a colander, salt generously with around half a tablespoon of salt, then leave over the sink for 30 minutes. You'll see beads of moisture start to appear. Rinse well, then pat dry on some kitchen roll. 
  2. Heat a little oil in a saucepan and fry the onion and garlic for 3-4 minutes, until the onion is soft. Add the aubergine and fry for another 5 minutes. You may need to add another drizzle of oil. 
  3. Throw in the tomatoes, wine, herbs and olives and simmer for 10 minutes. Get your pasta on the go now.
  4. When the pasta's ready, tip it into a bowl and spoon the aubergine provencal on top. Sprinkle with the chopped basil leaves and serve.

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