Aubergine, tomato and ricotta rigatoni




Recipe by Stevie Parle in The Telegraph. Photograph by Andrew Crowley

Aubergine, tomato and ricotta rigatoni

Aubergine is highly absorbent, so you need to fry it in quite a bit of oil. This really does help to make a wonderfully rich sauce, though, so it is worth it.

Serves 4-6

Olive oil

1 large onion, finely sliced

3 garlic cloves, finely sliced

2 x 400g/14oz tins plum tomatoes, rinsed and drained

1 aubergine, green cap removed, and cut into 3cm squares

1 bunch of basil, leaves picked

200g/7oz ricotta

100g/3½oz Parmesan

500g/1lb2oz rigatoni or conchiglie

Add a good splash of oil to a large saucepan and fry the onions and garlic with a pinch of salt over a medium-low heat. Cook for at least 10 minutes, until the onions are soft and sweet. Add the tomatoes, breaking them up with the back of a wooden spoon. Season well with salt and pepper and leave to simmer for at least 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, pour enough oil to come half a centimetre up the sides into your largest frying pan, and place over a medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the aubergine — you want it all to sit in one layer, so you may have to do this in batches. Season with a little salt and fry the aubergine until golden on all sides and the flesh is soft and translucent.

Stir the aubergine into the tomato sauce, followed by the basil. Season well and leave to simmer slowly while you cook the pasta. Mix the ricotta and Parmesan together in a bowl and season with a pinch of salt and pepper.

Bring a pan of salted water to the boil and cook the pasta according to packet instructions. Drain, reserving half a cup of cooking liquid. Stir the pasta into the sauce, adding a dash of cooking liquid to loosen the sauce if it needs it. Dollop spoonfuls of ricotta into the pasta and give it one stir only, just to slightly combine. Divide between plates and grate over some extra Parmesan before serving.

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