Each month, Matthew Jukes gives you a simple but stunning starter or main course recipe to serve with either Jukes 1, 6 or 8.
This month is Pasta Alla Norma (for 4 people) served with Jukes 6.
There are countless versions of this recipe in print and this is our version. I have used a little trick from Yotam Ottolenghi which helps to make the aubergines just perfect!
4 medium-sized Egg Plant
1 lb of Pasta – Spaghetti or Rigatoni both work well
2 oz of Parmesan or Pecorino Romano - grated
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 cloves of Garlic – finely sliced
2 red Chillies – deseeded and chopped
2 14 oz of the best Plum tomatoes (chop them if they are not already chopped)
2 pinches of dried Oregano
A handful of torn Basil leaves
Salt and cracked Black pepper
Preheat your oven to 400F. Firstly, peel the egg plants with a vegetable peeler in alternating peeled/unpeeled stripes from the stem at the top down to the round bottom. This will leave you with deep purple and white striped aubergines. Then turn them on their sides and cut even discs about half an inch thick. Place them in a bowl with a generous glug of olive oil, salt and pepper and coat them well. Then place them on baking paper and roast them in the oven for half an hour before removing them to cool.
While the egg plants are in the oven, make the sauce. Fry the garlic and chillies in a pan with plenty of olive oil for a couple of minutes before adding the tomatoes, oregano and more black pepper and salt to taste. Turn down the heat and cook the sauce until it thickens and then stir in the aubergines. This should take 15-20 minutes.
Boil the pasta in salted water and then strain while retaining some of the pasta water. This pasta water can be stirred into the thickened tomato sauce to dilute it a little and add flavour. Add the pasta to this sauce along with half of the grated cheese.
Plate up and grate the remaining cheese on top of the Pasta Alla Norma along with the torn basil leaves.