Aubergine & Penne Timbale
Italian families prepare this torte rustica di melanzana first thing on Christmas morning and pop it the oven while they are at Church. It's the perfect dish for sharing.
3 large round stripey aubergines
Trapani sea salt
unsalted butter for lining the baking tray
good handful of breadcrumbs
a handful of peas or other cooked veg
5 tbsps olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 large clove of garlic
400g chopped tomatoes
400g rigatoni or penne rigate
60-120g pecorino cheese, sliced
Slice the aubergines thinly, sprinkle with sea salt and drain in a colander for at least 2 hours. Rinse and squeeze lightly to get rid of the excess liquid or wrap in clean dish cloths.
Preheat your oven to 180ºC/gas mark 4 then grease a round cake tin or tart tin, about 25cm diameter and 3-4cm deep, with butter then tip in 2 some breadcrumb then shake and turn the tin so that to get the breadcrumbs to line the tin.
Heat about 6mm of olive oil in a deep frying pan or wok and sauté the aubergine slices in batches until lightly coloured. Drain on kitchen paper, then, using about three-quarters of the aubergines, overlap the slices over the base and around the sides of the greased and breadcrumbed tin.
In a pan, heat a tablespoon of oil, put in the onion and garlic and sauté until soft but not coloured with the lid on. Add the tomatoes, season, cover and cook over a low heat for 10 minutes or so.
Bring a pan of water to the boil, add salt, then put in the pasta until al dente (about 3 minutes less than the time given on the packet) Drain and reserve some of the cooking water.
Spoon a layer of pasta into the aubergine-lined tin, followed by some of the tomato sauce, a layer of the remaining aubergine and a layer of grated cheese. Repeat, finishing with a layer of aubergine, followed by the rest of the breadcrumbs. Bake in the preheated oven for about 25 minutes, until golden. Add a layer of extra breadcrumbs if the top is bubbling up or if you like a bit of crust.
Leave to stand for 10 minutes to firm up, then put a plate over the top of the tin, and carefully turn out on to the plate. Cut in wedges.
If you would like to place orders for Christmas please just call me on 07824 314 235