July 16, 2015 by dgarnett2013
Penne with fried aubergine and salted ricotta: The River Cafe Classic Italian Cook Book by Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers
Serves 2 – 4
- 2 pale, round aubergines
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 8 ripe plum tomatoes
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled
- a bunch of fresh basil, leaves picked
- 500ml sunflower oi
- 2 tabs red wine vinegar
- 200 – 500g penne
- 80g ricotta salata (a hard, aged ricotta suitable for grating)
Cut the aubergine into fine slices no more than 5mm thick. Place on kitchen paper and sprinkle with sea salt. Leave for at least 30 mins, then rinse each slice under cold water and pat dry.
To peel the tomatoes: score down one side, place in a large bowl, and pour over boiling water to cover. Remove them immediately to another large bowl, filled with cold water, and slip off the skins the moment the tomatoes are cool enough to handle. Place them on a chopping board, cut each tomato in half lengthways roughly. Keeping all the juices, scrape up and place in a bowl. Season with sea salt.
Finely chop the garlic, then add ½ tsp of salt. Grind the garlic with the salt using the end of a knife, flat side down on the board, to make a paste. Stir this paste into the tomatoes. Tear up half the basil leaves and add to the tomatoes.
Heat the sunflower oil in a large thick-bottomed, low-sided, flat pan. Test for the correct temperature (120℃) by putting in a slice of aubergine; it should turn a light golden colour almost immediately. Remove with a slotted spoon on to kitchen paper. Repeat the process with the rest of the aubergines, frying only one layer at a time. Sprinkle the fried aubergine with the vinegar.
Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add the penne and cook according to the packed instructions until al dente. While the penne is cooking, put the tomato mixture into a large pan and heat gently until hot, but not cooked. Grate the ricotta.
Drain the penne and add to the tomato mixture, stirring to coat each piece of pasta with the sauce. Gently fold in the aubergine slices, season, and add the remaining basil. Spoon the pasta into warm bowls and scatter the grated ricotta over each serving.
Made the day of Rose’s last celebration assembly in Reception.