I love Italian food! A lot of my appreciation and first insight into how to cook Italian food is thanks to Davide, who I was living with when I moved to London the first time to work as a waitress, and who is an amazing cook. One of my most memorable meals will always be the 10 (!) course dinner he cooked when I decided to go back to Sweden to study.
Spaghetti alla Norma is a classic Sicilian recipe with tomatoes and fried aubergine. It is delicious, but that aubergine really do soak up a shocking amount of olive oil. Something I really like is the Middle Eastern dish baba ganoush, a dip of roasted smokey aubergine, so I decided to instead of frying the ingredients for this dish, I would roast them in the oven instead. The result was delicious, with a soft smokiness and that rich flavour of roasted garlic and roasted peppers.
Spaghetti alla Norma - Sicilian pasta with roasted aubergine (4 portions)
2 small-medium aubergines
2 red peppers
2 red chillies
1 large red onion
1 garlic bulb
1 can of good quality plum or cherry tomatoes
small bunch of fresh basil
1 tbsp capers
0.5 tsp smoked paprika
a pinch of sugar
salt and pepper
parmesan or pecorino cheese, grated
Preheat the oven to 200C.
Cleave the aubergines lengthwise. Add a little olive oil at the bottom of a oven tray, and place the aubergine halves with the cut side down in the tray. Drizzle with a little more olive oil. Roast in the oven for 45 min until the aubergines are black and wrinkled. Take out and let cool down. Once cold enough to handle, scrape out the soft flesh.
While the aubergines are roasting, half and take out the seeds of the red peppers and chillies. Place in another oven tray, and add the quartered onion.
Cut of the top of the garlic bulb, exposing the cloves within. Place in the tray with the peppers, chillies and onion, and drizzle olive oil over all the vegetables. Roast for about 25 min until the skin of the peppers and chillies are charred and the garlic cloves are soft.
Take the charred peppers and chillies and place in a plastic bag and leave it to cool down (the steam coming off in the bag will make them easier to peel). Once cold enough the handle, remove the skin and squeeze out the garlic cloves.
Using a blender, blend all the roasted vegetables, including onions and garlics, with the canned tomatoes, basil, capers and smoked paprika. If I would do this during the summer, I would roast 4-5 good tomatoes as well, but as it is so difficult to find good tomatoes at this time of year, I opted for good canned tomatoes instead.
Add a pinch of sugar, and salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with spaghetti and grate over some parmesan or pecorino cheese when serving.