- 2 aubergines
- 1 onion
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 chilli
- A handful of oregano
- 1 tbsp Italian herb blend
- 690g passata
- 360g wholewheat penne
- 100g peppery salad mix
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 250g ricotta
- 35g flaked almonds
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- A pinch of sugar (optional)
Preheat your oven to 200°C/Fan 180°C/Gas 6. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Trim the tops off the aubergines. Cut the aubergines into small cubes and tumble them onto the baking tray. Pour over 2 tbsp olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat, then bake for 35-40 mins, stirring halfway to turn the aubergine pieces over, till they’re soft and lightly charred.
Meanwhile, peel and finely chop the onion. Set a large pan on a medium heat and add 1 tbsp olive oil. Add the onion, season with a pinch of salt and pepper and pop a lid on the pan. Fry the onion for 8 mins, stirring occasionally, till the onion is glossy and lightly browned.
While the onion fries, peel and grate or crush the garlic. Halve the chilli, scoop out the seeds and white pith (or leave them in for more heat), and finely chop the chilli. Pick the oregano leaves off their stalks and roughly chop.
Add the garlic, chilli and ¾ of the chopped oregano to the onion. Tip in the Italian herb blend. Cook and stir for 1-2 mins till the pan smells aromatic. Pour in the passata, pop a lid on the pan and bring to a simmer. When the sauce is just simmering, turn the heat down and gently bubble for 20 mins, stirring occasionally, till the sauce has thickened a little.
While the sauce simmers, fill and boil your kettle. Fill a large pan with the hot water from the kettle, topping it up if necessary, and add a generous pinch of salt. Set on a high heat and bring to the boil. When the water is boiling, add the penne and simmer for 8-10 mins till the pasta is cooked through but still has some bite.
When the aubergines are tender, take out of the oven and stir into the tomato sauce. Taste and add a pinch more salt and pepper, or a pinch of sugar, if you think it needs it. Let the sauce bubble for 1-2 mins to mingle all the flavours. Meanwhile, toss the salad leaves with the balsamic vinegar and a pinch of salt and pepper.
Drain the cooked penne, then add it to the pasta sauce and toss to mix. Divide the pasta between warm bowls or plates, and top with the ricotta, flaked almonds and chopped oregano. Serve with the salad on the side.
Love Your Leftovers:
If you have leftover pasta and sauce, it will keep well in the fridge for up to 3 days. Store it in an airtight tub, without the ricotta and flaked almonds, then reheat in the microwave till piping hot. Top with ricotta and almonds to serve.
If you want to add an extra layer of flavour to your pasta, toast the flaked almonds in a clean, dry frying pan for 2-3 mins till just browned and nutty smelling. The toasted nuts will have an extra richness that will pair deliciously with the creamy ricotta and aubergine sauce.