The Samovar

Aubergine pasta sauce
April 17, 2007, 11:30 pm
Filed under: Food, Recipes

One of my most popular recipes at the moment is an aubergine pasta sauce. For a while, I had been making this dish for myself as a quick dinner when eating alone because whenever I suggested it to anyone they didn’t show any interest. Aubergines do not arouse any excitement it seems. Recently though, it seems to have caught on and I’m always being asked to make it.

The recipe below is mine, but adapted from three recipes. One is from the recipe book of the Walnut Tree Inn, from back when it was an excellent and highly regarded Italian restaurant, another from the River Cafe cook book, and the last is from Marcella Hazan’s Classic Italian Cooking. I highly recommend all three.

Ingredients (for 2 hungry people)

  • 250g pasta – fettucine or other flat pasta is good, wholewheat works well
  • 1 aubergine, halved lengthwise and very thinly sliced
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1-2 chillis or dried chilli flakes (these work really well actually)
  • 1 tin tomatoes, or equivalent amount of chopped fresh tomato
  • Parmesan
  • Olive oil, quite a lot
  • Salt, pepper
  • Optional: fresh basil or coriander
  • Optional: 1 ball of mozzarella, preferably buffalo mozzarella, torn or chopped into bite sized pieces

In a large saucepan heat the olive oil. The amount you use is at your discretion. At the very least, you need a good covering of the base of your pan, but considerably more is preferable. The reason is that later on the aubergine will soak a lot of it up. This is a good thing and a bad thing – it’s good because it’s delicious, but it’s bad because you run the risk of burning the aubergine if you’re not careful. More on that in a moment.

Soften the finely chopped onion in the oil. Now add the thinly sliced aubergine. It’s important to make these slices as thin as you can be bothered. I usually go for about pound coin thickness as a trade-off between effort and reward. At this point, you can also add the chilli or flakes. Cover this pan and cook, occasionally uncovering and stirring so it doesn’t stick and burn. You need to keep cooking until the aubergine is soft enough to eat. Taste it to check when you reach this point – it’s always important to do this at every stage of cooking anything actually.


Now add the tomatoes, turn up the heat and reduce until the sauce is thick and there is no loose liquid in the pan, but no further than this. Season to taste. Take it off the heat and add the herbs and cheeses and stir them in. Mix with the pasta and serve. You may have difficulty with the melted mozzarella going everywhere, but it’s all part of the fun.


This sounds like the sort of ‘personal favourite’ recipe that would suit the diner’s menu. Would you like it put up there? If you have a photo of it – even better.

I’ll be trying it soon …

Comment by azahar

Yes, please do put it there! 🙂 I have no photo, but it’s not the most beautiful looking end product anyway – sort of brown and sludgy…

Comment by thesamovar

Okay … here it is. As you will see, I’ve put up a thumbnail of aubergines instead. Thanks!

Comment by azahar

Here’s what I did. I salted the aubergine for about 50 minutes, then proceeded according to your recipe. I used 5 vine tomatoes instead of a tin of tomatoes, not much in the way of chilli flakes, and completely forgot the black pepper. As I’m vegan, I used a little fake parmesan. The sauce was utterly divine!

How can people not appreciate aubergines?

Comment by Eve

Hey Eve, glad you liked it! 2 years later, this is still one of my favourite pasta sauces that I make every few weeks at least.

Comment by Dan | thesamovar

Hi, thanks for the recipe. I discovered more than a year ago. Since then, we prepare it regularly, and keep loving it!

Comment by Pierre

Thanks Pierre! Funnily enough, I just ate this! 🙂

Comment by Dan | thesamovar

Thanks for the delicious recipe. It was indeed exceedingly yummy.

Comment by greenheath


Comment by Dan | thesamovar

I tried your recipe with a few variations: Mix of canned tomatoes and fresh. I fried the aubergine as you suggested but then I took it out of the pan and pressed it between layers of brown paper to absorb the oil. In the same pan I toasted 1/3 cup of pine nuts which I added last. I used the same pan to cook 4 cloves of sliced garlic, tomatoes, parsley, oregano,chilli flakes, salt pepper, previously cooked aubergines, one carrot, one vegetable stock cube instead of onion, gradually I added 1/4 cup of water and 1/4 cup white wine to stop it sticking to the pan and finally 12 black olives. I think I needed the water and wine because I used a wide pan which caused more evaporation than your deep pan. I looks pretty good and I am having it with Tortiglioni (tube pasta with grooves) to pick up the sauce.

Comment by christine

Sounds good Christine – how was it? Personally, I don’t want to absorb the oil – I like it (although I guess it makes it just a teeny bit less healthy). I’ve tried it with black olives and that’s very nice. Were the pine nuts a good idea?

Comment by Dan | thesamovar

Delicious and easy to prepare. I also add mushrooms… Thank you very much!

Comment by Glad

I will definitely try this because I know it will be great. Aubergines are extremely popular in our Turkish cuisine. I really don’t understand people who “dislike” aubergine or eggplants as Americans call it. Are you people totally out of your mind or what? Shut up and eat your aubergine.

Comment by Ozcan

Comments are closed.

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: