I have a couple of pasta recipes for you today. One from a foodie mag and the other adapted from Donna Hay. As a sometimes food writer and budding food photographer, I have several subscriptions to cooking magazines, which I can never bring myself to throw away. Next year I have resolved to limit myself to just a couple renewals, before visitors to my place start to think I’m a hoarder of some sort. Funny thing is I rarely cook anything from these magazines as I have a handful of cookbooks that I tend to favour (usually Donna and various tomes on French cooking) and am trying to get more into developing my own recipes. But a recipe for rigatoni con crema melanzane in La Cucina Italiana caught my eye for being a bit different and I made it the same day I got it back in September (when I shot these photos; wow, can I ever see the difference between my new camera and lens!)
Typical of authentic Italian pasta dishes, the pasta is the star in the recipe; this sauce won’t heavily coat the noodles like a cream sauce will, so be sure to choose a good brand (I like Barilla). What I love about this dish is how the texture of the pine nuts contrasts the smooth and creamy eggplant puree and the salty bite of the Parmesan.
Rigatoni with Eggplant Puree
from La Cucina Italiana – September 2011
Serves 4 to 6
2 1/2 pounds eggplant
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
fine sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 pound rigatoni
freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1) Heat oven to 400F with rack in the middle. Line a a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut eggplants in half lengthwise; score flesh in a crosshatch pattern with a small, sharp knife. Brush with 1 tablespoon oil and season with generous pinch of salt and pepper.
2) Arrange eggplant cut-side down on prepared baking sheet and bake, rotating pan once halfway through, until tender, 45 to 50 minutes.
3) Transfer baking sheet with roasted eggplant to wire rack. Turn eggplant halves cut-side up; cool 5 minutes, then scrape eggplant flesh from skins; discard skins. Place flesh in a fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl; let drain 10 minutes. Discard liquid.
4) Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. In centre of cutting board, mound parsley, pine nuts, garlic and oregano; finely chop together mixture.
5) In a large skillet, heat remaining 3 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Add parsley mixture, reduce heat to low and cook, stirring frequently for 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat.
6) Cook pasta in the boiling water until al dente; drain and transfer to a large serving bowl. Add eggplant mixture and cheese; toss to combine well. Serve immediately.
Garlic Prawn Pasta
This recipe for garlic prawn pasta was inspired by one of my favourite all time dishes–garlic prawns. Actually, it wasn’t my inspiration, but that of Donna Hay, who always has brilliant ideas–twists to classics or interesting combinations of traditional dishes and ingredients. This one is from Fast, Fresh, Simple, one of my favourite and most often used cookbooks for its simple recipes and gorgeous photography. You can follow this link to get the recipe as printed but I made a few small alterations to the dish when I made it, which you can see below.
Garlic Prawn Pasta
adapted from Donna Hay
1/2 pound )200g) dried angel hair pasta or spaghetti
1 1/2 ounces (45g) butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon shredded lemon zest
16 large prawns, peeled and deveined and halved lengthwise
1 tablespoon lemon juice
4 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
cracked black pepper
1) Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water for 8-10 minutes or until al dente. Drain and keep warm.
2) While the pasta is cooking, heat a frying pan over medium-high heat; add the butter and oil and cook until the butter is melted.
3) Add the garlic and lemon zest and cook for 2 minutes.
4) Add the prawns and cook, stirring for 3 minutes or until the prawns are pink and tender.
5) Add the pasta, juice, parsley, salt and pepper 9to taste) to the pan and toss to combine. Add the pasta and to warm and coat; serve immediately.