Thursday, March 23, 2006

rigatoni with sweet tomatoes, eggplant and mozzarella

i just can't love jamie oliver enough! i have almost a hundred cookbooks and yet i find myself returning to one of three cookbooks written by the naked chef that i own. one of my favourite recipes from "jamie's dinners" is a pasta dish that jamie has had many times in italy, on the amalfi coast. i can't wait to go to italy this summer.

i bought some cow's milk mozzarella from borough market which i used in this dish. it's torn up and added right at the last minute and so is nice and stringy when you dig in.

here's the recipe from page 194 of jamie's dinners. enjoy jamie's distinctive voice which also makes reading his recipes so much more fun!

serves 4
1 firm ripe pink, black or white eggplant
extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 14 oz cans of good-quality plum tomatoes
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
sea salt abd freshly ground black pepper
1-2 fresh or dried red chillies (optional)
a bunch of fresh basil, leaves stripped and stalks sliced
4 tablespoons heavy cream
1 lb rigatoni (or penne)
7 oz cow's milk mozzarella
1 piece of paremesan cheese, for grating

remove both ends of the eggplant and slice into 1/2 inch slices, then slice these across and finely dice into 1/2 inch cubes. some people prefer to season their eggplant with salt and let it sit for a while in a colander to draw out the bitterness, but i don't really do this unless i'm dealing with a seedy, bitter eggplant. this dish is really best made using a firm silky one.

now put a large saucepan on the heat and drizzle in 4 to 5 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. when it's hot, add the cubes of eggplant, and as soon as they hit the pan stir them around with a spoon so they are delicately coated with the oil and not soaked on one side only. when they have a little colour, add the canned tomatoes and the balsamic vinegar. stir around and season carefully with salt and pepper. at this point, if you wanted to give the dish a little hear you could add some chopped fresh or crumbled dried chilli, but that's up to you. add the basil stalks, and simmer the sauce nice and gently for around 15 minutes, then add the cream.

while the sauce is simmering, bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and add the pasta. cook according to the package instructions until it is soft but still holding its shape, then drain it, saving a little of the cooking water. i like to put the pasta back into the pot it was cooked in with a tiny bit of the cooking water and a drizzle of olive oil and move it around so it becomes almost dressed with the water and oil.

at this point add the lovely tomato sauce to the pasta. by now the eggplant will have cooked into a creamy tomatoey pulp, which is just yum yum yum! season carefully to taste with salt and pepper. when all my guests are sitting round the table, i take the pan to the table, tear up the mozzarella and the fresh basil, and fold these in nicely for 30 seconds. then very quickly serve into bowls. by the time your guests start to eat, the mozzarella will have started to melt and will be stringy and gorgeous and really milky-tasting. just lovely with the tomatoes and eggplant. serve at the table with a block of parmesan cheese and grater so that everyone can help themsleves.


Blogger rums said...

that's a lovely recipe ;) except i'd rather have sausages than eggplant (UGH!). also, is the mozarella fresh?

9:26 am  
Blogger sailu said...

That's a nice recipe,Lulu.I like eggplants and I am gonna make it and probably blog about it too..:)
I will have to compromise on the mozzarella cheese though..dont find it here in Vizag stores..:(.Have to make do with the cheese available here.

12:10 pm  
Blogger gs said...

lulu that was a terrific posting.the pictures and the stuff.where did you get all this passion for food from? i suspect that you must have got it from my you know that jamie oliver ,the super chef,and your favourite,appears on zee cafe on sundays at 1 pm.he teaches the art of cooking some delectable dishes in this interactive cookery hassles.and also how to plan to cook for special occasions.breakfast pizza,elvis' burger and orange and red onion salad are some for which he has given his recipes.

3:33 pm  
Blogger Lulu said...

hi rums,
yup, the mozzarella was fresh from borough market - the kind that comes floating in liquid to maintain the freshness.

hi sailu,
this pasta sauce just as delicious without cheese. many times, i leave out both the parmesan and the mozzarella for a lighter version.

hi appa,
yes, i agree the food gene is definitely from your side :) rums had told me in an earlier post about jamie appearing on zee cafe. great to hear!

7:48 am  
Blogger ganpatibapa said...

Great great recipe. Followed it to a tee for some really great results. I think I need to get the book you mention. Thanks for a great post.

9:07 pm  
Blogger Lulu said...

hi ganpatibapa,
great to hear you had good results from the recipe. i'm a HUGE jamie oliver fan. you should definitely get his books. if you like italian food, i'd recommend "jamie's italy"

6:13 pm  
Anonymous viagra online said...

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6:56 pm  

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