Spinach Pappardelle with Aubergine & Smoked Chilli

His eyebrows raise just a fraction. I’ve just mentioned that I have another late night in the office and ask if he could whip up a quick dinner.

“Anything, really,” I say,  “Read the blog if you have to…”

Read the blog. That’s become our joke.

“How about pasta?”  he says. I look up. His eyes are alight like a kid on the eve of his birthday. Hope, expectation, breathless joy.

“Sure”, I shoot back, turning to face the computer screen and conceal my smirk.

I am married to a man who adores pasta. He craves Indian and Sri Lankan food. Demands Thai. But is besotted with pasta. If it’s smothered in nothing more than an arrabiata sauce, the man is in ecstasies. No blue cheese, fancy white sauces and complicated combinations. The very basic Italian flag variety- pasta (white), sauce (red), herbs (green) satisfies him. I guess life is complicated enough.

I made this vegetarian variety for our Meat Free meal the other day and used pappardelle or a broad fettuccine, which comes from the word pappare or “to gobble”. How utterly delightful is that? Combined with the always-popular-in-my-books aubergine, garlic and smoked chilli flakes, it’s simple to make but big on flavour.

And now when I need to work late and we’re having the what’s for dinner conversation and I want exactly this one, I can say, “Read the blog”.

I’m sure I can see him rolling his eyes as I glance at the reflection on my computer screen.

Ingredients

200-250 g Spinach Pappardelle (plain also fine, cooked according to package instructions)

1 T olive oil + extra

1/2 medium onion diced

1 medium aubergine, diced into 1 cm size cubes, roughly

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

400g can chopped and peeled tomatoes (or fresh)

1 & 1/2 cup water

2 tsp smoked chilli flakes* (adjust to preference)

5 spring onions, snipped

smoked or ordinary salt, to taste

*available at select delis. Use paprika or smoked paprika as substitutes

Method

Heat pan on stove to medium and add oil and fry onions for 4 minutes, turning.

Add aubergine and toss. Add another tablespoon or two of olive oil. Aubergine are very ‘thirsty’ vegetables. If you add

Cook for 8 minutes or so, turning until they soften.

Add garlic and smoked chilli and cook a further minute

Add tomato and water and mix. Cook down for 10-12 minutes, stirring from time to time.

Once thickened slightly, turn down the heat to low.

Add spring onions and serve over pappardelle immediately.

Serve with shavings of parmesan cheese if you prefer.


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