I have mentioned before how much we love recipes from Jamie Oliver. I picked up a new book called “Jamie’s Italy” and I don’t know why it has taken me this long to make recipes from it. This one was simple and tasty. I don’t cook eggplant much because the hubs isn’t a fan but everyone enjoyed this dish.
- 2 large firm eggplants
- Olive oil
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 4 cloves garlic, sliced
- a bunch fresh basil, stems chopped and leaves reserved
- 1 tsp white wine vinegar
- 28 oz canned plum tomatoes
- 1 lb dried spaghetti
- 6oz salted ricotta or parm cheese, grated
First of all, get your nice firm eggplants and cut them into quarters lengthwise. If they’ve got seedy, fluffy centers, remove them and chuck them away. Then cut the eggplants across the length, into finger-sized pieces. Get a large nonstick pan nice and hot and add a little oil. Fry the eggplants in two batches, adding a little extra oil if you need to. Give the eggplants a toss so the oil coats every single piece and then sprinkle with some of the dried oregano—this will make them taste fantastic. Using a pair of tongs, turn the pieces of eggplant until golden on all sides. Remove to a plate and do the same with the second batch.
When the eggplants are all cooked, add the first batch back to the pan—at this point I sometimes add a sneaky dried red chili. Turn the heat down to medium and add a little oil, the garlic, and the basil stems. Stir so everything gets evenly cooked, then add a swig of herb vinegar and the cans of tomatoes, which you can chop or whiz up. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, then taste and correct the seasoning. Tear up half the basil leaves, add to the sauce, and toss around.
Get your spaghetti into a pan of salted boiling water and cook according to the package instructions. When it’s al dente, drain it in a colander, reserving a little of the cooking water, and put it back into the pan. Add the Norma sauce and a little of the reserved cooking water and toss together back on the heat. Taste, and adjust the seasoning, then divide between your plates by twizzling the pasta into a ladle for each portion. Any sauce left in the pan can be spooned over the top. Sprinkle with the remaining basil, grated cheese, and oil.