Pasta alla Nonna

, from Issue #107. January, 2023
Photography by Yuki Sato.
Pasta alla Nonna

I have been making variations on this glorious high-summer dish for years – the perfect marriage of Italian flavours.

Serves: 4


2 small eggplants, halved lengthways
⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
sea salt and ground pepper
3 garlic cloves, crushed
½ teaspoon chilli flakes
finely grated zest 1 lemon
400-gram tin chopped tomatoes in juice
300 grams small cherry tomatoes
¼ cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon sugar
350 grams spaghetti
2 tablespoons capers
parmesan, finely grated, to serve


Preheat the oven to 190°C fan bake.

Slice the eggplants into 1cm-thick half-moons, then toss with ¼ cup of the olive oil. Spread out across 2 oven trays and roast for 15-20 minutes, until softened and golden around the edges.

Heat the remaining oil in a large frying pan. Add the onion, season with salt and pepper, and cook over a low heat for 10 minutes. Add the garlic, chilli flakes and lemon zest and cook for 1 minute. Add the tinned and fresh tomatoes, white wine, tomato paste and sugar and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta following the packet instructions, reserving 3 tablespoons of the cooking water.

Stir the eggplant into the sauce along with the capers. Season to taste, then add the spaghetti and reserved cooking water to the pan and toss to combine. Divide between four bowls and top with parmesan to serve.