Gemelli Noodles with Aubergine, Cherry Tomatoes, Hot Peppers and Mint
This evenings supper was a speedy affair- but a tasty one nonetheless! You may find it hard to believe, but this kind of pasta was new to me- but will definitely remain a firm favorite of mine now- it was just delicious!
Called gemelli, which is the Italian word for twins, these are made of 2 intertwined little tubes as you can see- how wonderful! And wonderful is also the way they take up sauce so well... all in all a good choice for this dish of spicy and fresh eggplant, tomato and pepper sauce with fresh mint! Yum-yum! A taste of Sicily again if you ask me- or at least my version of it!
I made the sauce by frying a little finely chopped bacon, onion and garlic and adding the eggplant, so that it would fry in the bacon fat and soak up all the flavors. I did not add any extra oil, but kept stirring until the eggplant became golden and brown. I then added a red chili pepper- mine was actually quite mild, but it is up to you how daring you want to be!
Stir in the pepper and sautée for a further 3-4 minutes. Next, add a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste and stir this in well, so that it gets plenty of heat- this will stop it from tasting bitter or sour, which can on occasion happen otherwise. Season with oregano, basil and nutmeg. I then added the cherry tomatoes and a little of the water from the pasta- which was by now boiling away. This soon thinned out the tomato paste, brought together all of the ingredients and all of the flavors of the sauce- and of course, due to the tomato paste, began to render down into a thicker sauce in a relatively short time.
Drain the pasta and add it to the sauce- this is the time for a dash of olive oil if you prefer it, otherwise all you need is a nice sprinkle of freshly ground or cracked black pepper and a little grated salted ricotta cheese. Sprinkle generously with mint and serve immediately! You will love the way that the mint tastes with the eggplant! Also, it takes the edge off the hot pepper and simply makes a delicious combination... but don't take my word for it... try it yourself and see!