AUBERGINE, TOMATO & RICOTTA RIGATONI INSPIRED BY THEO RANDALL
Theo Randall is the king of pasta and boy what a crown that is. Anyone that knows me will know that I could happily eat pasta for breakfast, lunch and supper every day. Theo has a new book out which is all about pasta and so the dish inspired by his episode could only really be pasta couldn’t it?
Theo talked us through a dish he cooks for his son very regularly. The dish was rigatoni with prawns (frozen and then chopped) with datterini tomatoes and zucchini. First you heat a little olive oil in a pan and then fry one slice of garlic. Add the the tomatoes and the idea is to melt them, not fry. You get your pasta cooking and just before it’s done you add the zucchini to the pasta. Finally add the prawns to the tomato and then add lots of parsley and lots more olive oil and a bit of the pasta water. He says the rigatoni become little sleeping bags of flavour!
So today’s recipe is very much inspired by Theo but it’s also a pasta dish I cook regularly at home. We recorded our episode earlier on in the Summer when the courgettes were all gorgeous and sadly there time might have come and gone for another year, but the aubergine works so well with the garlicky tomatoes. I love scooping spoonfuls of creamy ricotta on the top and stirring some torn basil leaves into the sauce as well as scattering fresh leaves on the top. I find by doing that you really get the most from the basil.
Give this is a go - it’s so simple but packed full of flavour!
250g dried rigatoni
1 small aubergine, cut into small cubes
1 very generous handful of baby tomatoes, sliced in half
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp balsamic
20 g parmesan
3 tablespoons of ricotta
handful of basil leaves
First up, heat a little olive oil (about 1 tbsp) in a deep frying pan and then fry the aubergine until lovely and golden. The aubergine will greedily soak up the oil but resist the temptation to give it too much oil or it will become greasy. You want lovely and golden aubergine. Season them well with salt and pepper.
When the aubergine are golden, it’s about the right time to get the pasta on. Cook it for about 2 minutes less than the packet suggests as we are going to finish it off in the sauce.
Then add the tomatoes to the aubergine. Reduce the heat a little, and see stirring. The tomatoes will break down and will melt into the oil from the aubergine. If it looks a little dry, add a tiny bit more olive oil or a splash of the pasta cooking water.
Once the tomatoes have meted down - after about 8 minutes, add the crushed garlic and the balsamic.
Once the pasta is very nearly cooked but not quite - scoop it into the sauce with a slotted spoon. Add a few spoons of the pasta cooking liquid if needed. Give it a really good stir and cook for another minute all together in the same pan.
Add a handful of torn basil leaves. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Pour onto a serving plate and add the parmesan, spoons of ricotta and more basil leaves.