Pasta has always been a staple, so trying the eggplant and capsicum pasta recipe was a no-brainer. However, there was a time there when the only thing a certain person would eat was tomato pasta, so we ate it twice a week to satisfy the three year old, because at least she was eating something even if it was the same thing over and over and over. Luckily she grew and so did her taste buds, so the repertoire expanded and we were all very grateful. That would seem like pandering to the whim of a toddler, but some battles just aren’t worth fighting and deep down you know it’s just a phase that will pass like any other.
Despite the overkill, tomato pasta remains a favourite because it takes the same amount of time to make as boiling a pot of water and cooking the pasta. Perfect when you really only want to spend 20 minutes pulling together something resembling dinner. But there’s nothing like changing it up a little, and this recipe from Gennaro Contaldo (Jamie Oliver’s Food Tube presents The Pasta Book) is unbelievably delicious, and more importantly, quick. The first time we made it, we had it with homemade tagliatelle. Amazing. The second time, feeling a little less enthusiastic, it was a box of dried tortiglioni courtesy of Barilla. Maybe not quite as fabulous, but still memorable and worth sharing. Enjoy!
- 1 small eggplant (aubergine), chopped into 1cm cubes
- extra virgin olive oil
- 1 red capsicum, sliced lengthways into thin strips
- 1 medium red chilli, finely sliced
- 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 8 kalamata olives, sliced
- 200g cherry tomatoes, quartered
- salt and pepper
- ½ bunch basil
- 400g pasta
- parmesan cheese, to serve
- Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat, add the diced eggplant and fry for 8 minutes, or until soft and creamy looking. Remove from pan.
- Add extra olive oil if needed, and add the capsicum, chilli and garlic. Cook for 3 minutes, then add the olives and a good splash of water and cook for a further 4 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pan of salted boiling water.
- Add the quartered tomatoes to the sauce, then tear in most of the basil leaves. Keep a few leaves aside for later. Cover and cook for 2 minutes, or until the tomatoes have softened. Add the eggplant, season with salt and pepper, then reduce to a sauce consistency, adding a splash of pasta cooking water to loosen, if needed.
- Reserve some of the cooking water, drain the pasta and add it to the sauce. Toss well over the heat, adding a splash of cooking water to loosen, if needed. Serve with grated parmesan, and scatter the rest of the basil leaves.