Penne con Melanzane

This is one of my favourite dishes. I cook it regularly and it has evolved from a recipe I read a while ago in which the aubergines were fried. I prefer the aubergines to be oiled and baked until golden and charred in places. They give the whole dish a unique sweet smoky taste. Chickpeas are a good source of protein, fibre, copper, manganese and folate

Penne con MelanzaneIngredients  for two

olive oil

a medium aubergine (eggplant..melanzane..)

a small onion

3 gloves of garlic

400g (14oz) can of plum (or chopped) tomatoes

3 teaspoons of dried crushed red chillies (or to taste, this will be slightly fiery)

tomato puree

a pinch of dried oregano (optional)

a 400g can of chickpeas

200 g (7oz) of dried spelt or wholewheat penne  (or less if you dont want a hearty main course)

freshly ground black pepper

rock salt for garnishing

table salt

a small bunch of flat leaf parlsey coarsely chopped


Preheat the oven to 200C (400F gas/mark 6)

Put a large pan of water on to boil (add a dash of salt when it does)

Cut the aubergine into thin slices (about a half of a centimetre or a quarter of an inch) on a slight diagonal to get larger slices.  Bake until golden brown on both sides turning once for about thirty minutes

Dice the onion and chop the garlic

Splash some olive oil in large pan and place on a low heat ,add the diced onion, sprinkle with a little salt, stir to coat in oil.  Cover.  Cook for ten minutes or until the onions are soft but not brown.  Half way through stir in the garlic and add the crushed chillies and some freshly ground black pepper (and the pinch of oregano)

When the onions are ready add the tin of tomatoes, squash a little against the sides of the pan if using plum.  Add a squirt (about two teaspoons) of tomato puree, stir well.  Bring slowly to the boil and add the drained chickpeas, reduce heat to simmer uncovered for a further ten minutes while the pasta is cooking

Add the pasta to the boiling salted water are cook for nine minutes or al dente.  Towards the end of cooking time add a couple of tablespoons of the cooking water to the simmering sauce and stir

Drain the pasta

Turn off the heat under the sauce.  Add the aubergines, two thirds of the chopped parsley.  Stir and then stir in the drained pasta

Serve garnished with the rest of the parsley, black pepper and rock salt

3 thoughts on “Penne con Melanzane

  1. if the recipe that was supposed to make me scream ‘meat is murder’ (once agreed on giving murder a bad connotation) was your penne con melanzane rendition, that failed to hit the mark, not because of the ingredients, I in fact love aubergines, rich in nicotine and with a very peculiar spicy texture, but because all the effort and time spent in cooking could be saved and spent pursuing different objectives..
    just yesterday, what a coincidence, i bought in sainsbury’s a jar of roasted greek aubergines imam, that, once chopped in smaller chunks, spread onto slices of mozzarella, and put in a microwave for about 40 seconds, gives you a very close approximation of your recipe..
    just to be sure i was’n fooling myself with the final result, ive just had it as an afternoon snack, without the pasta, of course..
    delicious.. ..and within a very reasonable price range (£2.26 a jar)
    of course if i had to cook for more than 2 people, your method would be considered, but to indulge myself in a fast treat, i consider my procedure easier..
    going back to the murderous recipe, i was expecting something on the lines of the ortolan, blinded songbirds fattened up to 4 times their size in a dark cage, then drowned in a snifter of armagnac, plucked, then roasted for about 6 minutes…
    such a delicacy that they must be eaten whole, biting off the head, with the diner’s own head covered by a napkin, not to be disturbed during such a feat…
    unluckily the practice has been banned in the past 3 years in france, and it would be very expensive to get hold of one in the near future..
    good for me, as you know, i am off to vietnam in less than a month, and there, next to dogs, rats and snakes, i will be able to taste drunken prawns, drowned in rice wine..
    maybe not the peak of gastronomy, as ortolans are reputed to be, but still some new flavours to add to my library..
    after all even Darwin himself wanted to taste every single animal he was coming in contact with.
    (comment posted on jan 2012)

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