Goddess level Aubergines with Tomato-Anchovy-Cream Sauce

Rachel Roddy, whom I adore, published this recipe for tomato sauce in her Guardian column a few months ago, to go with pasta :

Rachel Roddy’s recipe for pasta with tomatoes and anchovy sauce

https://www.theguardian.com/food/2019/mar/25/pasta-with-tomatoes-anchovy-sauce-rachel-roddy

I’ve been meaning to make it for a while – cream and butter in tomato sauce always catches my eye. I was also interested to make a tomato sauce with no garlic or onion included and scented with rosemary instead of basil. I made it for 2 people instead of 4-6, so halved quantities. I also changed the parmesan in Rachel’s recipe for ricotta salata (here’s a link to buying it online – it lasts ages). I recently bought some from a little Italian van that pops up at markets around Essex (I infuriated the woman who owns half of my local town by beating her to the last piece of the cheese… it felt pathetically satisfying). 

I cooked Rachel’s exquisite sauce with grilled slices of 2 aubergines to make a kind of bake. It was goddess level imho. Instructions below.

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Aubergines:

Slice 2 large-ish shiny black aubergines into 1cm rounds, and toss in 1/2 tablespoon of salt and leave to sit in a colander for 20 minutes. Then rinse and pat dry with a tea towel.

Turn a grill onto quite high. Brush the aubergines with a very little olive oil and grill in roasting trays, turning when the top is lightly browned.

While they are are soaking / grilling – prepare the sauce below.

Quantities for 2-3 people

1 tin of tomatoes

4-5 anchovies drained of oil

leaves from a small sprig of rosemary, finely chopped

20g (or so) of unsalted butter

2 tablespoons of olive oil

a dash of double cream (2-3 tablespoons or so)

50g of grated ricotta salata (or parmesan) plus extra to top the baking dish

As per Rachel’s recipe (definitely add the cream!): 

Melt the butter in the oil slowly on a low heat in a heavy-bottomed frying pan, then add the anchovies and rosemary and very slowly melt the anchovies, stirring until they are no longer visible. Open 1 tin of whole plum tomatoes and, using scissors, snip up the tomatoes in the tin into pieces then empty into the anchovy butter. Bring almost to the boil (a very light bubble) and then leave to barely simmer for 25 minutes. 

Allow to cool for 10 minutes. Then stir in 2 tablespoons of double cream and the grated ricotta salata and stir and season to taste with salt and a grind of pepper. 

To assemble:

In a small baking dish, make loose layers of aubergine slices with the sauce, making sure there is enough to spread a little across the top. Grate more of the ricotta and sprinkle it across the top – mixed with a tablespoon of breadcrumbs if you have them for a little crunch.

Place under the grill until lightly browned on top.

Serve with a slice of toasted rubbed with garlic and a green salad of round lettuce, very lightly dressed with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and a teaspoon of red wine vinegar and a pinch of salt. Scoop up the sauce left in the baking dish with lettuce leaves – very satisfying!

Incidentally, I had a glass of £6.50 Morrison’s supermarket Nero D’Avola (Sicilian red wine) with this and it went very well. 

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