The original recipe for this appeared on Good Food but I changed the method and ingredients a little to make it ‘piu Italiano’. The vegacquarian Marito loved it; this is a very hearty, robust vegetarian sauce that would convert any meat eater. The quantity of sauce below is enough for at least 8 people, but any excess can be stored in the freezer. You could throw in a whole red chilli during the simmering for a mild infusion of heat, or chop in some chilli for a bigger punch. I used casarecce shaped pasta for this as I thought it would “hold” the sauce well. Rigatoni or any chunky and tubular pasta would also work.
125ml olive oil
About 800g eggplant, stalk removed and diced
2 tsp salt
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
3 x 400g tinned tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 bay leaves
25ml caramelised balsamic
50ml red wine
Grated parmesan to serve (optional)
1. Heat 100mls of olive oil in a large frying pan, add the eggplant and one teaspoon of salt, then fry over a high heat until golden. Spoon the eggplant onto a plate and set aside.
2. Add the remaining 25mls of olive oil to the pan, add the onion, remaining salt and fry off for 2-3 minutes to allow the onion to soften. Add 200mls of water and simmer until the water evaporates and the onion starts to turn golden.
3. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste and bay leaves, cover and simmer for about 25 minutes
4. Add the balsamic and wine and simmer for a further 5 to 10 minutes. If the sauce seems too thick and it is sticking to the bottom of the pan add about ¾ cup of water, then add back the eggplant and simmer for about 10 minutes or until the eggplant is tender but not collapsed. Check for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Meanwhile cook your favourite pasta, and once cooked, toss through the sauce and serve with grated parmesan if desired