Aubergine sauce for pasta

This sauce is good mixed with small pasta, or layered with lasagne and a bechamel sauce and baked. In fact, I bet you could mix it with small pasta and bake it. I have tried it two ways, once using some mystery chilli and herb seasoning that a relative bought back from Italy for me. I made a small quantity suitable for two or three people, so double this would be a really good lot of sauce sufficient to serve around six people.

Top tip discovered whilst doing this: One handful of small pasta weighs a good ounce. Three handfuls is one good-size portion of pasta. There are other versions of this classic sauce around: I found one in The Pasta Bible, and another on Allrecipes website

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tsbs olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • A handful of fresh parsley (I used fresh flat-leaf parsley from the garden)
  • 1 medium aubergine, diced
  • 1/2 handful fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 tsp ground chilli (or use a small fresh chilli and add it with the garlic)
  • 1/2 cup of boiling water
  • Pinch of saffron
  • 1/2 tsp marigold stock powder
  • 1 tin chopped organic tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp red wine
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • (If you are using the mystery Italian seasoning from the holiday pack of pasta, use this in place of the parsley, chilli, basil and paprika, and add with the aubergines: I would suggests a heaped teaspoonful)

METHOD:

  • Heat the oil in a medium saucepan, and add the garlic and parsley.
  • Turn the heat to very low, squish the garlic with a wooden spoon, then cover and cook for about 10 minutes while you chop the aubergine. I got nervous about this, it seemed a long time, so I checked every so often, and took it off the heat once the garlic looked cooked.
  • If you used a small whole fresh chilli, remove this now. Add the aubergines, chilli powder, basil, half the water, and cover to simmer for another 10 minutes.
  • I put the marigold stock powder into the remaining hot water, along with the saffron and sugar and allowed this to infuse.
  • After the 10 minutes is up, add the water, saffron, sugar, stock powder, wine and tomatoes, along with the paprika. Season to taste, cover and settle it to simmer for another 30 minutes.
  • Once the sauce is cooked, put it somewhere safe, boil up the pasta of your choice, drain and then stir in the sauce.
  • If you are using this for a baked pasta dish, stir in the cooked pasta, put it into an ovenproof dish, top with mozzarella, and bake for 20 minutes in a hot oven.

Greek pot-roast beef with spaghetti

This recipe combines local beef with a recipe from The Home Book of Greek Cookery by Joyce M. Stubbs, which I bought in a jumble sale in the 1980s for 20p. This was very easy and very tasty as well.

INGREDIENTS:

    • 3-4lb rolled beef, for example brisket or silver-side
    • 250ml olive oil
    • 2 medium onions
    • 4 cloves of garlic
    • 1 dsp sugar
    • 3 tbsp tomato paste (organic paste from the wholefood co-op)
    • 1 stick or 1 tsp cinnamon (all herbs and spices available from the wholefood co-op)
    • 1 bayleaf
    • 2 cloves
    • salt and pepper
    • Spaghetti (75g per person)
    • grated parmesan

METHOD:

  • Heat the oil in a heavy pan and brown the meat on all sides.
  • Remove the meat from the pan, and add the finely chopped onions, garlic, salt and pepper, and the spices, and fry very gently together
  • Mix the tomato paste with 300ml of hot water, and add to the fried onions. Bring to a simmer, and add the bayleaf and the meat.
  • Simmer for around 2-3 hours, either on the hob or in a low oven, until the meat is tender and the sauce is thick and rich. Keep an eye on the pot-roast and add a little water if it looks like it might boil dry.
  • Cook the spaghetti according to the instructions on the pack.
  • To serve, mix about half of the sauce with the spaghetti, divide between the serving plates, and top with parmesan cheese. Next add a thick slice of meat and another spoonful of sauce.
  • The book also suggests serving the pasta as one course and the meat as part of the next course.