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
Smoky roasted aubergines in a simple spicy tomato sauce over linguine makes for a perfect Meatless Monday, or any day, supper.
1 tsp crushed chilli flakes, plus extra for finishing
1/4 cup fresh, chopped basil, plus extra for finishing
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 packet linguine
Preheat the oven to 220° C/425° F.
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 .
Pop the aubergine cubes in the oven and roast until they're tender and browning, which should take about 20 minutes.
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.
While the onions are sautéeing, put a large saucepan of water on to boil for your pasta.
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.
At this point, give the aubergine a good shake to toss everything around again and then pop back in the oven.
Give the sauce another 10-12 minutes, until it has thickened up.
When the eggplant is ready, remove it from the oven and add it to the sauce. Continue to simmer gently on very low heat.
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Salt well before popping the linguine in. Cook per the packet instructions, until al dente.
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.
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 🙂
A back to basics couscous that is packed full of lovely summer flavours.
3 inch long piece of cucumber, skinned and finely diced
fresh mint or parsley, chopped
olive or rapeseed oil
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!
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 🙂
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
Deceptively simple meatless pasta dish that is anything but boring.
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.
Once the onions have cooked down, add the minced garlic and stir to mix.
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).
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.
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.
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!