- 2 lbs eggplant, (900g)
- ½ cup olive oil, (120 ml)
- salt and black pepper
- 5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1–2 mild dried chiles, seeded if you don't want the heat
- 2 cans whole peeled plum tomatoes, (400g), with their juice
- 5 large oregano sprigs
- 1 tsp sugar
- 10 oz. spaghetti, (300g)
- 1-½ oz. pecorino romano, (45g), or ricotta salata, shaved
- 1 cup basil leaves, (20g), torn
After a day in the test kitchen, eating all day, there are just a handful of dishes I’m happy to cook and eat once I get home. This is one of them. If you’re getting organized and into batch cooking, double or triple the recipe for the tomato sauce so that this is all ready to go. It keeps in the fridge for 5 days and also freezes well. The eggplant, once roasted, is also happy to sit around (either at room temperature or in the fridge) for 1 day, if you want to get ahead with this too.
If you see any ricotta salata, do get it to try instead of the pecorino romano. It’s a variation of ricotta that has been pressed, salted, and dried—its flavor is both salty and nutty. It’s firmer than standard ricotta and works really well shaved over spaghetti.
1. Preheat the oven to 450˚F.
2. Using a peeler and working from top to bottom of each eggplant, shave off long alternating strips of peel so that they look striped, like zebras. Cut crosswise into 1/2-inch/1cm slices and place in a bowl with 5 tbsp/75ml of oil, 3/4 tsp of salt, and a generous grind of pepper. Mix well, then spread out on two large parchment-lined baking sheets. Roast for 30–35 minutes, until dark golden brown. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
3. Put 2 tbsp of oil into a sauté pan and place over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and chiles and fry for 1–2 minutes, stirring constantly, until the garlic is golden brown. Add the tomatoes and their juice, oregano, sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, and a grind of pepper. Decrease the heat to medium-low and cook for 10 minutes, until the sauce is thick. Remove the oregano sprigs and stir in the eggplant. Set aside.
4. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the spaghetti. Cook until al dente, then strain, reserving some cooking water. Add the spaghetti to the sauce and mix well, adding two-thirds of the pecorino and basil, and a few tbsp of the cooking water if the sauce has become too thick.
5. Divide the spaghetti among four shallow bowls, then top with the remaining pecorino, basil, and 1 tbsp of oil, and serve.