Spicy Aubergine & Tomato Pasta

Spicy Aubergine & Tomato Pasta

I love aubergines (aka eggplants)!  They are one of my favourite vegetables if not my favourite vegetable (although they are technically a fruit, but let’s not quibble over that just now).  I even have a Pinterest board dedicated to them!  They are crazy versatile, as evidenced by the myriad ways to have them, and I don’t think I’ve come across an aubergine dish yet that I didn’t like. My mum is totally to blame for my aubergine fondness, she makes this mean Chinese chilli aubergine that when I was a kid I used to pick at the leftovers, stone cold straight out of the fridge, and then tried (and failed!) to cover up the holes I’d left…

Aubergines are in season still so this is a great recipe for a quick and satisfying Meatless Monday supper, or an any night supper.  The dish is full of that unmistakeable smoky aubergine flavour, perfectly complimented by the spicy tomato sauce.  And cooking the aubergines in the oven avoids all that oil soaking up that they love which, whilst it does make them much tastier, isn’t brilliant for the old waistline.   The fresh basil bridges late Summer and early Autumn, and makes a lovely difference so while you can substitute it for dried basil I would recommend trying not to.  

Spicy Aubergine & Tomato Pasta
Serves 2
Smoky roasted aubergines in a simple spicy tomato sauce over linguine makes for a perfect Meatless Monday, or any day, supper.
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
35 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
35 min
Stuff you'll need...
  1. 2 medium aubergines/eggplants
  2. olive oil
  3. 1 medium onion, chopped
  4. 3 cloves garlic, minced
  5. 14-ounce can chopped tomatoes
  6. 1 tbsp fresh oregano, or 1 1/2 tsp dry oregano
  7. 1 tsp crushed chilli flakes, plus extra for finishing
  8. 1/4 cup fresh, chopped basil, plus extra for finishing
  9. 1/2 tsp sugar
  10. Balsamic vinegar
  11. 1/2 packet linguine
  12. Parmesan
Cook!
  1. Preheat the oven to 220° C/425° F.
  2. Slice the eggplants into 1-inch thick slices, then cut again until you have large cube-ish pieces. Spread out on a baking sheet or roasting tray. Salt well and season with black pepper before drizzling over with 2 tbsp of olive oil. Toss the aubergine cubes until they are well coated .
  3. Pop the aubergine cubes in the oven and roast until they're tender and browning, which should take about 20 minutes.
  4. While the aubergine is roasting, heat 3 tbsp olive oil on low heat in a large saucepan. Add the onions and sautée for 6-8 minutes, until the onions are soft.
  5. While the onions are sautéeing, put a large saucepan of water on to boil for your pasta.
  6. Add the garlic and sautée for another minute before adding the tomatoes, oregano, chilli flakes, sugar and basil. Add a couple of good slugs of balsamic and then turn the heat up until the sauce is simmering.
  7. At this point, give the aubergine a good shake to toss everything around again and then pop back in the oven.
  8. Give the sauce another 10-12 minutes, until it has thickened up.
  9. When the eggplant is ready, remove it from the oven and add it to the sauce. Continue to simmer gently on very low heat.
  10. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Salt well before popping the linguine in. Cook per the packet instructions, until al dente.
  11. When the pasta is ready, drain and drop into the sauce. Gently fold in the sauce until the pasta is well coated. Dish up and top with chopped basil and chilli flakes to taste. Serve with grated parmesan.
Adapted from Food52
Adapted from Food52
fifigoesnom http://www.fifigoesnom.com/
Caramelised Red Onion Marmalade

Caramelised Red Onion Marmalade

A bit of a random recipe choice to blog at first glance, I know but it’s ahead of a wee Burns Night Challenge I’ve been given so watch this space to see how I use this 🙂  In the meantime… this sweet sticky stuff is a wonderfully versatile accompaniment to so many things – cheese, pates, terrines, cold meat, hot meat (steak sarnie or burger anyone?) – stir it into a quiche mixture, or make a tart out of it and top with goats cheese, and its a fab wee crostini or canape topper.  And it’s so easy to make that I’m actually a little ashamed at how often I’ve bought it ready made…  New year’s resolution #147 – never again!

There are so many recipes online, all variations on a theme, but the one I’ve adapted substitutes pomegranate juice for the more traditional red wine, and I’m much happier drinking leftover pomegranate juice than I am red wine 😉

Depending on the size of onions you’re using this should make about 1 cup. If you know what you’re doing making jams and marmalades from scratch (I don’t!) then pop this into a steralised jar and it should keep in the fridge for up to three months. Otherwise, it will last in the fridge covered for up to two weeks.

Caramelised Red Onion Marmalade
A sweet, sticky, versatile accompaniment to all sorts of savoury noms.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
1 min
Total Time
1 hr 10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
1 min
Total Time
1 hr 10 min
Stuff you'll need...
  1. 2 tbsp olive oil
  2. 2 red onions, thinly sliced
  3. 1/4 cup dark brown soft sugar
  4. 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  5. 1/2 cup pomegranate or cranberry juice
  6. salt to season
Cook!
  1. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan on a medium-low heat before adding the onions. Saute for 10-15 minutes until they are soft and translucent.
  2. Add the sugar, stir well, and cook for a minute or so. When the sugar has dissolved add the vinegar and juice, season with salt, and turn the heat up. Bring it all to a boil before reducing the heat back down to a simmer.
  3. Cook until the liquid has evaporated, which should take somewhere between 30-60 minutes, stirring frequently to make sure the marmalade doesn't burn.
fifigoesnom http://www.fifigoesnom.com/
Couscous 101

Couscous 101

I may have mentioned this before (!) but I suck at summer food, and I suck at lunchtime inspirations.  They are my nemesis… or should that be nemisi?  Regardless, I have finally, found something that ticks both the summer food and the lunch food boxes, and is so easy to make that it isn’t technically ‘cooking’, more like ‘mixing’ 🙂  Couscous! Did I mention that it’s ridiculously easy, like so-easy-its-a-crime-to-buy-it-ready-made, and takes next to no time to throw together?  Both big plusses in my book, especially in this very un-Scottish heatwave when who in their right mind would want to spend any more time in a hot kitchen than they need to?

As well as being a great lunchtime option (it’s an awesome side to quiche) I’ve found that couscous makes a nice alternative to rice in the Summer when you’re having something that isn’t heavy on the sauce, like a bit of pan fried cod with lemon and garlic butter or some leftover roast chicken all torn up and tossed in a wee bit of tzatziki.  Or wrap it up with hummus and some greenery for some portable noms!

So this is my base recipe, once these ingredients are in place anything goes really, like chargrilled veggies (courgettes and aubergines especially lend themselves well to this), or sunblush tomatoes instead of fresh, or coriander as your herb of choice, or plump raisins soaked in pomegranate molasses, toasted pine nuts or slivered almonds, go fruity and use orange zest and juice instead of lemon, pretty much whatever takes your fancy.  No two versions need ever be quite the same, which isn’t a bad thing 🙂

Couscous 101
Serves 4
A back to basics couscous that is packed full of lovely summer flavours.
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Stuff you’ll need…
  1. 250g couscous
  2. 1/2 pint/300ml hot water
  3. chicken or vegetable stock cube/pot
  4. 1 lemon, juice and zest
  5. cherry tomatoes
  6. feta cheese, cut into small cubes
  7. 1/2 red onion, finely diced
  8. 3 inch long piece of cucumber, skinned and finely diced
  9. fresh mint or parsley, chopped
  10. olive or rapeseed oil
Assemble!
  1. In a medium sized mixing bowl mix the couscous and stock, cover with clingfilm and leave for about 15 minutes. Add a couple of glugs of olive oil and fluff with a fork – the olive oil will keep the couscous from clumping together. Add everything else and mix well. Chuck it back in the fridge, covered, to let all the flavours infuse and blend, and that is it!
  2. Seriously!
Notes
  1. It doesn’t hurt to refresh it with a wee bit more olive/rapeseed oil before you’re going to tuck in, but otherwise keep it covered in the fridge and it should last you 2-3 days. And on the off chance that there’s still some left and in danger of going to waste, mix it with some flour and egg and fry yourself up some couscous cakes 🙂
fifigoesnom http://www.fifigoesnom.com/
Easy Summery Tomatoey Tart

Easy Summery Tomatoey Tart

I’m always complaining that I lack inspiration for lunches.  Weekdays are worse because it has to be packable for Hubby, but even for weekends I struggle to come up with something that requires a wee bit more effort that doesn’t end up feeling like a dinner meal.  Which is why I generally try to conspire to be in charge of suppers at the weekend 😉 and leave the lunches to Hubby, who always has better ideas for it than me anyway.  Like this!  It’s such a perfect summer lunch – the puff pastry base makes it much much lighter than a pizza, the abundance of tomatoes makes it really fresh, and there’s no slaving over a flame in this heat (yes, even in Scotland!) as you just pop the whole thing in the oven.

We’ve tried this with big fat vine tomatoes and with little sweet cherry tomatoes, and it’s good either way or using a mix of both.  And as we’re right in the middle of the British tomato season you can literally have your pick of them 🙂

We’re really lucky in that we have access to some fabulous tommies either from our local, Real Foods on Broughton Street, or if we pop up to the Edinburgh Farmer’s Market on a Saturday the amazing selection from the peeps at Clyde Valley Tomatoes.

As well as struggling for lunchtime ideas I also suck at ‘Summer’ food, which is why the blog has been a wee bit quiet recently… But I’ve been trying a few new things out though so will hopefully be back to posting a little more regularly!

Easy Summery Tomatoey Tart
Serves 2
A Summery alternative to pizza, loaded with sweet seasonal tomatoes.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Stuff you’ll need…
  1. 1 pack ready made (and ready rolled) puff pastry
  2. assorted tomatoes, sliced
  3. 1 ball buffalo mozzarella cheese
  4. parma ham
  5. basil
  6. 2-3 cloves garlic, minced/grated
  7. 1/2 small red onion, finely diced
  8. 1/4 cup tomato puree (we’re loving Cirio at the moment!)
  9. 1 generous tbsp ketchup (Heinz’s posh roasted garlic, thyme and honey edition highly recommended)
  10. 2-3 tsp balsamic vinegar
  11. 1-2 tsp sugar
  12. salt and pepper to taste
  13. olive/rapeseed oil
  14. milk for glazing
  15. a few dashes of magi seasoning (optional)
  16. chilli infused rapeseed oil (we used Supernature’s) (optional)
Assemble!
  1. Preheat the oven to 220C/430F. Line your baking tray with baking parchment before drizzling some olive oil over it and smearing it over the parchment with your fingers (or some kitchen roll) until the oil is fairly evenly spread. Unfurl the puff pastry sheet and centre it on the parchment. Score a 1 inch/2.5cm border around the edge of the pastry without cutting all the way through. Leave at room temperature for 10 minutes, or per the instructions on the box, which give you more than enough time to slice up the tomatoes and…
  2. …make up the sauce, by combining the tomato puree, ketchup, garlic, balsamic, sugar, salt and pepper, and Magi (if using) and mix well – you’re wanting the sauce to have a paste-like consistency. Spread the sauce all over the pastry, taking care to keep it all within the border (otherwise the border won’t rise up).
  3. Drain the mozzarella, tear it into small chunks and then scatter evenly over the sauce. Scatter the diced red onions over the cheese. Tear the parma ham (we found thirds worked well) and dot these all over the sauce. Finally, lay a generous spread of tomato slices on top and then season the lot with salt and pepper.
  4. Brush the border of the pastry with milk to glaze and then pop into the preheated oven for 18-20 minutes or until the pastry border has risen up and is a lovely golden brown. Before serving, scatter some torn up basil over the tart. Hubby says to get the best flavour from fresh basil, tear them from the stems and lightly clap the leaves between your hands a few times to release the oils, and then tear into smaller pieces. Alternatively, frozen pre-chopped basil works really well too – I don’t know about you but there’s always way too much basil in a packet for me to actually ever finish so being able to grab a handful out of the freezer makes me not twitch about food waste!
  5. Finally, drizzle all over with a bit of olive or rapeseed oil before slicing and serving. We are big fans of Supernature’s lovely chilli infused rapeseed oil which compliments all those lovely tomatoes while adding a subtle kick to the whole thing.
fifigoesnom http://www.fifigoesnom.com/
Hubby’s Wicked Tasty Tomato & Marscapone Pasta

Hubby’s Wicked Tasty Tomato & Marscapone Pasta

Sometimes, you just want to throw something together for supper that’s quick and easy and uncomplicated but without compromising on the tasty.  This is just one of those  dishes, and something that Hubby pretty much made up out of whatever was in the kitchen one night. The big show off…  However, the flavour is that yummy that I can’t hold his genius ability to cook something out of nothing against him 😉 And for a dish that’s pretty cheap to make it actually tastes anything but thanks to the mascarpone.

Along with our somewhat enforced but surprisingly enjoyable dietary diversion into fish, we’re also trying to cut down on red meat and have started doing Meatless Monday, which this dish is perfect for 🙂

The secret ingredient in this is fish sauce, which I know seems like a strange thing to put in a pasta sauce but it adds a cheeky sneaky bit of umami that really works well.  But if fish sauce is just a step too far, or if you’re trying to make this properly vegetarian, porcini mushrooms would also tick the umami box and would go really well with this sauce – rehydrate from dried, chop, finely sieve the water the mushrooms rehydrated in to catch any grit and add a spoon or two to the sauce along with the porcini.

Hubby's Wicked Tasty Tomato & Mascarpone Pasta
Serves 2
Deceptively simple meatless pasta dish that is anything but boring.
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Stuff you’ll need…
  1. 1 large onion, finely diced
  2. 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  3. 1 400g can chopped tomatoes
  4. 1 tbsp tomato puree
  5. 3/4 cup/180 ml water
  6. 1 1/2 tsp fish sauce
  7. 2 1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  8. 1 tsp sugar
  9. 2-3 tbsp mascarpone
  10. parmesan
  11. basil (optional)
  12. salt and pepper to season
  13. 250-300g pasta
Cook!
  1. Heat 2-3 tsp olive oil in a saucepan over a low flame. Add the diced onions and sweat them for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, without letting them colour.
  2. Once the onions have cooked down, add the minced garlic and stir to mix.
  3. Then add the tomato puree, can of tomatoes, fish sauce, balsamic vinegar, sugar and water. Mix well before turning the heat up to medium and simmer partially covered for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally (if the sauce becomes claggy, turn the heat down and add a little bit of water to thin it).
  4. When the sauce is almost done cooking, fill another saucepan with water for the pasta and put it over a high heat until it’s boiling. Pop in your pasta, and then take the lid off the sauce and let it cook uncovered until the pasta is ready which should be about another 10 minutes.
  5. When the pasta is cooked, take 1/4 cup of the cooking water before draining it, and add that to the tomato sauce, mixing well. Add the marscapone to the tomato sauce, stirring until completely blended.
  6. Return your pasta to the cooking pan, top with the tomato marscapone sauce and stir until the pasta is coated. Top with remaining sauce, if desired, and generously grate parmesean cheese all over it. Devour!
fifigoesnom http://www.fifigoesnom.com/
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