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Sunday, February 6, 2011

Penne with Ratatouille Pasta Sauce

I love the animated cartoon Ratatouille, my son doesnt like the grumpy chef in it so he hides everytime its on. When I was back in Maldives, in capital Male' I used to shop in this small supermarket and they used to have lots of zucchini or courgettes. Both colours green and yellow, but unfortunately not many people knew about them and would come pick them up, give a sniff even and then leave it. I  felt a little sad at times for the people who bring them in and not having much customers buying them.
Ratatouille a french dish, you probably know that already , I think more like a stew of sorts with tomatoes, eggplants, peppers and zucchini. I turned it into a pasta sauce and added some sausages to satisfy my protein loving husband. 
Serves about 3-4 people
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 fat cloves of garlic, chopped
1 small aubergine/eggplant/brinjal ( about 150g)
1 red bell pepper
A handful of cherry tomatoes, or 1 medium very ripe tomato
1 can peeled chopped tomatoes or whole tomatoes ( crushed)
2 garlic or spicy sausages, chopped ( optional)
1 green or red chilli, finely chopped
1/2 tsp dried mixed herbs
about 1/3 cup water or stock of your choice( either vegetable or chicken)
salt and pepper
penne or other short pasta if you cant find any penne ( enough for 3 people)

1. Prepare the vegetables :
* Brinjal/eggplant : cut into small cubes about 1/2 inches. Place in colander with a pinch of salt and let it sit for 5 minutes and then rinse it off and drain well or pat dry.
*Zucchini / courgette : Choose a small firm one if possible , cut into quaters lenghtwise and at an angle remove the fluffy core if its a large one. Then cut each into the same size as the eggplants.
* Bell peppers: remove the seeds and white pith and cut into same size as the other vegetables
* cherry tomatoes : half them , if whole tomato cut into small cubes.

2. Heat a large deep frying pan  or a suitable pot and add olive oil. Add your onions and saute' till soft and just begining to colour. Add your garlic and the sausages if using and cook 1 minute.

3. Add all the vegetables  stir fry for 2 minutes and then add herbs, chilli if using, the canned tomatoes,  about 1/3 cup stock or water. Bring to a boil, then cover and  simmer for about 5 minutes. Then uncover and cook to reduce and thicken the sauce. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste.  Make sure the sauce is thick so it will stick to the pasta. Stir in some fresh parsley, finely chopped at the very end , if you have any that is.

4. While the sauce is cooking, heat a large pan with water with a generous amount of salt,  bring to boil. When it starts to boil , add your pasta and give a stir so they wont end up sticking together and cook until al dente'. Drain and toss into your pasta sauce.

Serve  and hope you enjoy it.

DID YOU KNOW : you are always to toss the pasta into the sauce , not the sauce into the pasta according to Chef Gino D'Acampo

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