Recipe courtesy of Psychologies Magazine (July 2020) and taken from the book Pasta Perfect by Laura Santini.
This is a simple tomato sauce with a kick of heat – the spice both exhilarating and moreish. An easy recipe for a quick weeknight meal, topped here with ricotta and aubergine curls.
Serves : 4-6
Extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, squashed, peeled and halved lengthways
900g cherry tomatoes, halved
2 fresh red chillies, deseeded and cut into half-moons
1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes
Handful of fresh basil, roughly torn, plus extra to serve
1 tsp sugar
400-600g dried pasta or 320-480g fresh pasta
Heat 5mm oil in a large non-stick frying pan. Toss in the garlic and cook, stirring, to flavour the oil. As the garlic begins to colour, add the tomatoes, chillies, dried chilli flakes, basil and sugar, then season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Cook over a low heat for 10-15 minutes, until the tomatoes have broken down, but not totally.
Meanwhile, for the topper, slice the skin from the aubergine 1cm deep all around. Discard the pulpy core. Cut the skin into 1cm-wide matchsticks. Put in a colander, sprinkle with salt and squash with a heavy bowl for 30 minutes.
Drain and rinse the aubergine well. Squeeze out all the water with your hands and pat dry with paper towels.
Heat 2.5cm oil in a pot suitable for shallow-frying – check if it hot with the end of an aubergine matchstick to see if it sizzles.
Add the aubergine matchsticks and fry, stirring, until golden brown and slightly curled.
Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a few pieces of paper towel to absorb any excess oil.
Cook the pasta in plenty of boiling salted water, according to the packet instructions.
Drain the pasta but keep a cup of the cooking water. Tip the pasta back into the pan, add the spicy cherry tomato sauce and toss over a high heat, until the pasta looks creamy and well coated. Add a splash of the retained cooking water to loosen, if needed.
Serve, topped with crumbled ricotta, the crispy aubergine curls, extra basil and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Serve with extra black pepper and grated Parmesan cheese if it makes you happy!