Thursday, 14 August 2014

Aubergine and Roasted tomato Pasta Sauce

My friend Sylvia grows wonderful aubergines, no easy task for a plant that requires such a long period of growth in the sun. My aubergines will certainly not be ready for another week or two. She kindly gave me a couple the other day and I decided to create a pasta sauce using one of them. The tomatoes from the greenhouse are coming thick and fast so combining the aubergine with some of these and the addition of the obligatory garlic seemed a good idea. People who read my blog know that I rarely use currants, but adding currants to this sauce brought out the slight tannin flavour of the aubergine skin producing a rich deep flavoured sauce.

For this recipe (enough to feed 4) you will need,

700g of fresh tomatoes
1 large aubergine
50g of currants
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tablespoon of tomato puree
2 anchovy fillets (optional)
1 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of coarse ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper.

Begin by dicing the aubergine and frying in 2 tablespoons of olive oil along with 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a large heavy based pan. Fry on a medium heat and stir from time to time to ensure each surface gets a reasonable chance to colour up. Meanwhile cut the tomatoes into chunks and place with the remaining salt and oil in a hot oven to roast. Roast them for 15 to 20 minutes at 200C or until they have released their liquid and the skins have taken on a little colour.
When the diced aubergine has turned a little brown, add the chopped garlic and the anchovy fillets if using. Cook for a couple of minutes before adding the tomato puree. Cook for a further couple of minutes, stirring to make sure all the ingredients get exposed to the heat of the pan. Finally add the roasted tomatoes, currants, pepper and cayenne and 200ml of water. Cover with a lid and cook on a low heat for 10 minutes while you cook whatever pasta you fancy.

Frying the aubergine, which so readily soaks up oil, in so little oil is made possible by the addition of salt. The salt will draw liquid out of the aubergine and force the oil back out of the vegetable.
I find the use of anchovy fillets really adds a depth of flavour to the finished sauce, leave them out of course if you are feeding vegetarians, the rest of the dish may well be vegetable based but people who regard themselves as vegetarian quite rightly include fish, even tiny ones.
The currants provide a fruity sweetness which doesn't in any way over-sweeten the dish but does enhance the flavour of the tomatoes and balances the tannins in the aubergine and the currants themselves.


  1. Useful tip about frying the aubergine. I tend to avoid it because of the amount of oil it soaks up.

  2. Hello again Ann and thank you for your comment, always good to hear from you. You just have to persevere on a moderate heat and be steadfast in doing the odd bit of stirring, with these absorbent vegetables. The same applies to mushrooms. I find if the salt isn't working quite quickly enough or if the pan gets a bit too hot a splash of water gets the whole thing going. You really do end up using less oil than you ever expected. best wishes, Tôbi.