Penne con Sugo di Pomodoro, Melanzane e Ricotta Salata

Penne with Rich Tomato Sauce, Aubergine and Salted Ricotta

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Preparation info

  • 6

    • Difficulty


Appears in

Alastair Little's Italian Kitchen

Alastair Little's Italian Kitchen

By Alastair Little

Published 1996

  • About

This was served to me in a scruffy Sicilian trattoria close to the Vatican. The owner, cook and waiter was a woman with so vast a bosom that she couldn’t get an apron over it. Instead she used a tablecloth tied above her poitrine. Awesome. She told us exactly what to eat and we ate it.

You will need a baby mouli-legumes to do this dish.


  • 500 g penne rigate
  • 2 large aubergines
  • 150 g salted ricotta (you won’t be able to find it, so buy good-quality feta)

For the rich Sicilian tomato sauce

  • 500 g tinned tomato pieces
  • 1 onion, peeled and finely diced
  • good olive oil
  • 2 small dried chillies, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 6 anchovy fillets, diced a little sugar
  • 10 black olives, stoned and very finely chopped
  • a handful of parsley, chopped
  • salt and pepper


To make the sauce, sauté the onion in 1 tbsp oil with the chilli and garlic until starting to colour. Add the tomatoes, stir and simmer for 10 minutes, then add the anchovies and a little sugar. Simmer this mixture, stirring occasionally, until reduced by half, about 30 minutes. Take off the heat, and stir in the olives, parsley and a little more oil. The sauce is ready. Check the seasoning and adjust if necessary. The sauce can be stored in the fridge for several days.

You can also prepare the aubergines at the same time as the tomato sauce. Slice the aubergines 5 mm thick lengthways. Lightly brush with olive oil, and season. Cook in a large frying pan dry for 5 minutes per side. You may need to do this in several batches. Lay out on a lightly oiled baking sheet in a single layer.

Preheat the oven to 120°C/250°F/Gas ½.

Put 5 litres slightly salted water on to boil half an hour before you wish to eat. Heat six soup plates in the oven, and put the aubergines in to heat up 15 minutes before time. Reheat the sauce, but be careful, it will catch and burn. Break the feta up and pack into the baby mouli. Boil the pasta for 8–9 minutes then taste. If done, drain in a colander, reserving a little of the pasta liquid in a jug. Return the pasta to the hot pan and add the hot sauce. Toss thoroughly, then portion out into the warmed soup plates. Put two slices of hot aubergine on top then, working quickly, mouli the cheese over each dish producing little white squiggles which partially melt on to the aubergine and sauce. Serve quickly.

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