Vegetables are the stars of this dish-the pasta playing but a minor role. However, you can up the carbohydrate content if you want to bulk out the dish or if you’re feeding hungry children-or adults for that matter. The pasta of choice is gnocchetti sardi-the shapes which look like woodlice- but you could use penne, fusilli or even orzo. The courgette is grated raw into the sauce which gives the sauce a fresher feel and a bit of texture. I’ve even added extra vegetables into the tomato sauce- it makes it less intensely tomatoey- so you can tick off your goal of Five-a-Day.
- 7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 onion, peeled and chopped
- 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
- 1 stick celery, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 x 400g tins plum tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon tomato purée
- 2 teaspoons caster sugar
- 1 bay leaf
- Small handful of basil leaves
- 2 aubergines, topped and tailed and cubed
- 1 large courgette, topped and tailed
- 100g gnocchetti sardi
- 1 ball mozzarella, drained and torn into small pieces
- 50g pecorino or parmesan, grated
- Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large saucepan and add the onion, carrot and celery and stir over a moderate heat for 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, tomato purée, sugar and bay leaf and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down and simmer for 20 minutes. Take off the heat and leave to cool. Add the basil leaves and liquidise with a stick blender or in a food processor.
- Heat the oven to 210˚c, fan oven 200˚c, mark 7. Pour the remaining 5 tablespoons olive oil in a roasting tin and heat in the oven for 5 minutes. Add the aubergines to the tin and stir to coat the cubes. Season with salt and pepper and roast in the oven for 20 minutes. Stir well and return to the oven for a further 10-15 minutes until the aubergines are soft and golden. Stir into the tomato sauce. Turn the oven down to 200˚c, fan oven 180˚c, mark 6.
- Cook the pasta in salted boiling water according to the packet instructions-mine took 10 minutes. Drain well and stir into the tomato and aubergine sauce. Using a julienne grater (or coarse grater if you haven’t got one) grate the raw courgette into the sauce. Spoon the whole lot into a gratin dish and dot over the mozzarella. Sprinkle over the pecorino and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until bubbling and golden.