roasted aubergine persian pasta

Today has been an exhilarating day, given we slept in until twelve (at least we were silent at 11am, though Paul probably let one go in the silence as he did have roasted aubergine pasta last night) (we did pay our respects properly, later, privately) and then fannied about ironing and cleaning until we realised it was almost 3pm and we hadn’t planned our meals for the week ahead or done the big-shop. Seriously, inside our fridge at 3pm was a limp leek and a can of Tab, and no amount of fromage bloody frais was going to make that into an interesting meal. So, clothes hurtled on, recipes dug out and a list planned and we were in the car within 15 minutes. Good work.

I have to say, we stopped going to Tesco about a year ago because we found the produce to be poor and the prices to be high, but we’ve recently been pleasantly surprised – the Tesco in Kingston Park has been done out and seems a lot fresher, although who the fuck would eat at the newly opened Giraffe restaurant opened in the supermarket? Who, in this county of wonderful country pubs and fantastic eateries thinks that what they really need with their microwaved pasta dish is the soothing sounds of sunday shoppers, bellowing and mooing their way to the whoops aisle, red-faced shitty-arsed children bawling away in the trolleys and a Metro thundering past every ten minutes in a streak of electrical fire? EH? Answer me that.

Aubergine pasta

Firstly, CRIME FRAICHE? For heaven’s sake. I apologise profusely. My iPad autocorrecting me into madness again.

I can’t actually remember where I found this recipe, only that it’s been in my notebook for a while to try out. I know it’s a Yotam Ottolenghi recipe and I could find the source if I looked, but I’m a lazy lazy man. This is part of our ongoing mission to not get bogged down in the ‘same old’ recipes – trying something new at least four times a week.

to make roasted aubergine Persian pasta you will need: 

spaghetti, three big aubergines, 0% greek yoghurt, weight watchers creme fraiche, lemon juice, dried mint, saffron (optional), garlic, cumin, salt and pepper.

to make roasted aubergine Persian pasta you should: 

first the aubergine – prick them all over and pop them into the oven for 1 hour. After this, take them out, leave to cool, scoop out the flesh inside and discard the skin. Pop the flesh into a colander and give it a push around with a spoon just to break it up and drain the liquid. Put to one side and leave to cool.

If you’re using the saffron, pop a couple of strands in a cup with two tablespoons of warm water to infuse.

Next, put your spaghetti on to cook – assuming it’ll take about fifteen minutes – but feel free to stagger these stages if you’re a little wary of doing too many things at once in the kitchen. I know I am. Pop the creme fraiche (I synned 2 syns for 50g) and the parmesan (50g of grated parmasan – again I synned two syns – based on using up my healthy extra on the cheese and then 4 syns for 25g extra, which is being strict) in and whisk on a medium heat until it is smooth. Allow to cool for a moment, and add the yoghurt, and keep on whisking but this time on a low heat – if the mixture is too hot and you’re not whisking, it’ll separate and that’s it, you’ll need to start again. Once smooth, set aside.

Next (or at the same time, if you’re quick at chopping onions like me), dice your onion into tiny pieces, and saute in a pan with the cumin seeds (say a teaspoon) – hot enough to get the oil out of the seeds, mind. Knock the heat down when the onions are golden, add the aubergine flesh, two tablespoons of lemon juice, a bit of garlic, plenty of salt and a few good twists of black pepper. Cook for ten minutes or so.

Once your spaghetti is cooked to your liking (and for gods sake, cook it properly, don’t cook it to death – you should be able to slurp the spaghetti, not sieve it through your teeth), chuck it back in the empty pan, pour some dried mint (or if you’re feeling decadent, a teaspoon of olive oil with dried mint infused in it – 6 syns) through it and plate up. Add the aubergine mixture on top, then the creamy sauce, then some more mint and salt on top. If you’ve made saffron water, put a few drops on the top – it adds a very discreet flavour but it’s worth it.

extra-easy: yup – easily one third of the dish is the roasted aubergine, so worry ye not. Syn free on green too, but not a red recipe. But let’s not overegg the pudding anyway, I’m definitely an extra easy guy.

top tips: you don’t have to do this, but I think it is worth the extra three syns to use olive oil in your spaghetti – especially with the mint infused within it. It just adds an extra layer, but I can understand why people are relunctant. But if you use a good oil, you’re laughing. Oh, and don’t buy the aubergines that are bagged up, you want to get the loose ones – much cheaper. Look for aubergines about as big as your hand, as the bigger the aubergine, the more bitter it’ll be (if that’s not a link to us fatties I don’t know what it is).

Please don’t be put off by the fact you have to use a few syns – I say this every single time, but this diet isn’t about being super-strict, it’s about enjoying your food and making more of an effort to find new things and eat well. This tastes delicious and has an unusual mix of flavours. Worth a go!