Baked Aubergine and Garlic Pasta with Slow Cooked Tomatoes
This recipe is for my big sister who is fed up of me only posting sweet recipes. Sis - sorry to tease you with pasta during Lent, but it can be something for you to look forward to!
My obsession with roasted vegetables is getting out of hand... I manage to find a way to introduce them into almost every meal, and I don't think I will ever have had enough. Slow cooked cherry tomatoes are my absolute favourite - they make any salad more exciting - but they are always an add on or an after thought. For this recipe they are the star - they are the thing that turns a very simple dish into something insanely delicious, and nothing beats a big bowl of pasta, especially when it it covered in juicy toms and lots of basil.
I don't eat gluten-free because I am a serious pizza/pasta/baguette lover, but I know that gluten can cause a lot of strain on the digestive system and so it is good not to indulge too often, but this weekend I tried brown rice pasta for the first time, and I am really excited to say I love it! (I appreciate it is still quite a processed food, but pasta is just not something I am willing to give up - by all means make this sauce to go with courgette or another raw vegetable spaghetti if you want a healthier and lighter meal).
Whilst eating raw tomatoes is undoubtedly good for you, they are one food that supposedly has many more health benefits once they have been cooked. Heating tomatoes acutally increases their levels of lycopene (a phytochemical) which long term is really key for eye and heart health.
For many years aubergine was my absolute nemesis... I have no idea what changed, but these days I can't get enough of it! My favourite way of eating it is slow cooked in a spicy red thai curry, but teamed with sweet tomatoes and loads of torn fresh basil they are pretty epic too. As well as being a good source of dietary fibre and vitamins B1 and B6, aubergines are rich in antioxidants, one of which - nasunin - plays an important role in protection of brain cells.
2 cups cherry tomatoes
1 red onion
2 cloves of garlic
Sea salt and pepper
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 big handfuls of fresh basil
Brown rice spaghetti
Pre-heat the oven to 140°C, then half the tomatoes and cherry tomatoes, and slice the aubergine into disks. Toss it all with sea salt and a drizzle of olive oïl then roast for 1 hour (the aubergine may need turning).
Once the vegetables are nearly cooked, roughly chop the onion and garlic and sautée them in a little olive oïl until they are cooked through (now is also the time to put your pasta on to cook - it should take 10 minutes). Mash the 4 roasted tomato halves into the saucepan with the onions and garlic, then add 1/2 a cup of water along with the baslsamic vinegar. Add in the aubergine and allow to cook down for a few minutes until the pasta is ready.
Once you have drained the cooked pasta, stir it into the saucepan with the sauce, along with the cherry tomatoes, torn basil and a good grind of black pepper . For non-vegans (and anyone in my family who I might cook this for!) you could now tear up some bits of mozarella and stir it in, so that by the time you have served the pasta, the cheese is melted and delicious.