2 medium eggplants
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon dried oregano
pinch of chilli flakes
2 x 400 gram tins crushed Italian tomatoes or 6 very large ripe tomatoes, diced
200 grams dried spaghetti
handful of fresh basil
200 grams fresh bocconcini or mozzarella in whey, well drained (I used Clevdon Valley Buffalo company)
freshly grated Parmesan
Preheat the oven to 200˚C.
Remove the stalk and cut the eggplant lengthways into 1 cm thick slices. Brush both sides with olive oil and season. Place on a lined baking tray and cook for about 25 minutes until tender but not falling apart, turning once during cooking. Set aside.
Tomato sauce: Heat the olive oil in a saucepan, add the garlic, oregano and chilli flakes and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, season and simmer until reduced and thick. Set aside.
Cook the spaghetti in plenty of boiling, well salted water until al dente. Drain well and toss with a little olive oil to prevent it sticking together.
To assemble: Combine the spaghetti and ¾ of the tomato sauce in a large bowl. Using tongs, twirl the spaghetti around the tongs and place 4 separate mounds in a lightly greased baking dish. Tear the bocconcini into pieces and push a couple into the pasta along with 2-3 basil leaves. Dip the eggplant slices in the remaining tomato sauce and lay 2 slices over the top of each bundle. Top with a couple of basil leaves, more bocconcini, a spoonful of the remaining sauce and finally, a good grating of Parmesan. Bake for 20 minutes or until the cheese has melted and the spaghetti is hot.
Cook’s tip: In Sicily the eggplant would be salted and left for at least four hours before being rinsed, dried and fried. Our method of baking the eggplant slices in the oven serves the same purpose, in that very little oil is required.