For this week’s pasta dinner I made orecchiette – one of my favourites but sometimes hard to find in the shops. The name means ‘little ears’ and they are thickish little domes of pasta with more bite than some of the usual shapes. I didn’t quite nail the cut ‘n’ roll technique so mine turned out a little too thick and chewy – one to try again.
But I have to say the sauce I made to go with it was delicious, which i why I’ve written up the recipe to make it again. Inspired by an awesome sandwich I had for lunch at Fernandez & Wells, I tried a smoky, spiced mixture of charred aubergine with my usual concentrated tomato base, and some spicing that’s unusual for pasta pairings: Middle Eastern-inspired cumin, sumac and chilli. In fact the ingredients are all pretty similar to last week’s lasagne, just the spicing gives it a twist. Try it – this sauce would go with any shaped pasta, or would be great with gnocchi.
- Orecchiette pasta - fresh or dried. Farfalle, fusilli or gnocchi would work, too.
- 1 medium aubergine
- 1 tin plum tomatoes in juice
- 4 sun-dried tomatoes, diced
- Half a white onion, peeled and halved again
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
- 1/2 tsp sumac
- 1/4 tsp dried cumin powder
- Feta cheese
- For the sauce, add the tinned and sun-dried tomatoes, onion and butter to a pan and simmer on a medium heat for 25 mins until jammy and reduced. Discard the onion, season, and stir in the spices.
- Slash the aubergine's skin all over with a knife and place onto gas hob, turning often, until deflated and charred all over. Alternatively, halve and place skin-side-up under a hot grill - or barbecue it! When completely soft, pop into a bowl and cover with clingfilm to cool and soften some more.
- Cook the pasta. Peel and discard blackened skin from the aubergine and tip the flesh into the sauce, mix to combine, and reheat. Mix in the cooked pasta and serve with feta cheese crumbled over the top.