Sunday, 9 September 2012

Butter roast pepper & aubergine al forno


1 aubergine, 1 bell pepper, 75g passata tomatoes, butter, pasta, cheddar, 1 white onion, 1 glass red wine.
Serves: 4 preparation: 30 minutes

It's possible to make a fabulous pasta sauce with little more than tomatoes and butter - thick and glossy with little need of seasoning. I've taken those principles and applied them to make this unbelievably wonderful, indulgent pasta sauce. Words cannot describe the combination of pepper, tomato, butter and aubergine - made richer with wine and onion this is a feast for every sense.

1) Slice the aubergines to half centimetre thick discs and sprinkle with salt. Leave to rest until you see dark juices beading the surface, then wipe away with kitchen towel.

2) Slice the top from a bell pepper and remove the core and seeds. Roast in the oven until the skin has almost completely blackened and pulse thoroughly - skin and all - in the blender.

3) Peel and finely slice a white onion and sautee with a little butter until completely soft. Add the red wine and cook off, then transfer to the blender with the pureed roast pepper and blend to incorporate.

4) Put the pasta on to boil - the sauce can take 2 cups to serve 4 or 3 cups to serve 6 if you add an extra 15g passata.

5) Melt a little butter in a frying pan and add the aubergine slices (I cook 4 at a time), turning immediately to allow them to soak up the butter evenly. Sizzle until the butter browns and is completely soaked up by the aubergine before turning again - then continue turning until the surface of the aubergine colours and the skin changes to a vibrant, shiny purple. Repeat for all the aubergine slices, then cut them in half.

6) Transfer the roast pepper and onion mixture to a pan along with the passata and stir through on a low heat. When the pasta is cooked, strain and stir into the sauce along with the aubergine slices.

7) Spoon the pasta and sauce into an ovenproof dish and top with a layer of grated cheddar. Personally I think a sharp vintage cheddar is perfect here, if you preffer those milder, waxy cheddars this will leave you with a greasy layer on the pasta once it is cooked so I would use grated mozzarella and a sprinkling of parmeggian instead. Bake for 5-10 minutes on a medium heat until the cheese is golden bubbly and serve with salad.

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