30 Jan 2012

Potent Penne Pasta with savory eggplant and tomatosauce

This dish is inspired from one of Marcella Hazan's greater cookbooks. This author is often credited for introducing real Italian cooking to the British and in the States. She published a number of books but this recipe has its orgins in the Essentials of Classical Italian Cooking which was published in 1992. It is an absolute classic - and includes a recipe for the best Spaghetti Bolognese ever concocted by man and I can proudly state that my brother makes a slight variation of her dish which is worth dying for - and I mean that literally - I will post that someday!  

This recipe is basically a simple tomato sauce with a slight twist. But this twist is more than just a subtlety. It brings a whole new dimension to the sauce and changes the sauce dramatically. I had never been a big fan of the eggplant but after reading more about this fruit my opinion has changed. It was obvious that the reason for my dislike was my own fault - I didn't know how to cook it properly! This method of frying it in oil until its golden brown alters its flavour from a rather bitter to a deep, rich even rather warm taste. I urge you all to give this recipe a try - it is delicious.

heimagerður serviettuhringur
a kitty napkin ring made my daughter

At the same time that I was in the kitchen cooking up the meal, my daughter - Valdís, made these napkin rings - lovely aren't they? 

Potent Penne Pasta with savory eggplant and tomatosauce

Lovely sliced aubergines resting on kitchen paper

First things first. It is to make the tomato sauce. And as I mentioned previously it is simple. Slice a whole medium sized white onion, 2-3 large cloves of garlic and fry gently in some good extra virgin olive oil at low-medium heat until it is soft and tender. Then add a couple of cans of Italian canned tomatoes and let the heat rise until the tomatoes are cooking. Take our time - all good things need time! Then you must season your tomatoes generously with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Canned tomatoes tend to be of various quality - some are quite sour while others are on the sweeter side. If you happen to have a can of tomatoes that are sour just fix that by adding some sugar into the mix - a little at time until you are content with the balance. Then add a handful of fresh fragrant basil leaves and allow the sauce to simmer while you tend to the aubergines. 

aubergines frying in my new copper pan

This was the inaugural dish for the newest toy in my kitchen. I had purchased a real copper pan made by the Bourgeat company in France. On occasion, when the purse allows, I visit this fabulous store H.W Larsen in Copenhagen. It is a store for serious cooks and professional kitchens. Their collection of knives is breathtaking. For enthusiast, check out their website - www.hwl.dk.

Well, that was a sidestep - back to the eggplant which was sliced into long slices and placed on paper towels. The aubergine slices were salted on both sides and the allowed to "sweat" for 10-15 minutes. Then you place a pan of your choice on the heat and pour in a generous quantity of oil - half a centimetre I'd say - and then fry the slices on both sides until they have turned golden brown. This will totally change their flavour!

golden brown and tasty

This is quite entertaining to watch (yes I know - I am a food nerd par excellence!). First you notice how the eggplant sucks up alot of the oil - and some bad conscience develops but is short lived cause it partly releases it back when it is cooked. Thus when it is removed from the pan it looks like there is the same amount of oil in the pan!

When the aubergines are cooked they are taken of the pan and placed on fresh kitchen paper and allowed to drain for a couple of minutes. After that they are cut down to smaller pieces and then added to the tomato sauce.

scrumptious rich sauce

a mano
With the food we served some simple salad, made from some mixed green leaves, red and orange pepper, cucumber, fresh parsley leaves and a few kalamata olives.

I boiled some penne pasta in a generous amount of salted water until it was al dente. When the pasta was ready it was drained and then it was stirred into the tomato and eggplant sauce. It was off course served with a generous helping of freshly grated parmigiana cheese.

With the food we enjoyed a drop of this lovely Italian wine. A Mano Primitivo 2007. This is a reasonably priced wine here in Sweden. It is from Apulien which is just outside the town of Taranto which is situated on a peninsula on the eastern coast of central Italy. This is a delightful wine - spicy - dark in the glass. Fruity with a subtle taste, some tannins and a balanced finish.

The pasta is in - and dinner is served

Let's eat, drink and be merry - Bon appetit!


  1. We liked this A LOT! The only thing I think next time is that I will cook the eggplant... catering bristol

  2. Any good and healthy twist to my favorite cuisine is always welcome in my cookbook. I'll definitely give this a try.
    restaurant seo

    1. Hello David.

      An even healthier variant is to brush the aubergine with oil and bake it in the oven until it's golden and scrumbtious!. It will taste really savory but looses a tad of its richness that comes from the oil. But hey...it will be rich enough!

      Thanks for visiting my site!

      Regards, Ragnar



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