This is probably one of my favourite dishes of all time as it combines all my favourite flavours in one and is definitely my first go-to whenever I’m looking to pair something rich and spicey with a carb. It honestly makes my dream pasta sauce - although many people may object to the use of spices and tahini, I think it goes so well. But if you’re unsure, the ragu itself is delicious eaten alone, with bread, or spooned on any grain of your choice; bulgur wheat, cous cous, rice, freekeh would all work perfectly.
It’s really straightforward, roast the eggplants until soft and melty, then mix them through a rich tomato base until it all comes together as a delicious jammy sauce. The only thing to note is the use of chilli, feel free to use whatever you have – I used dried chillies, rehydrated in boiling water, as I always have a few of these knocking around my spice cupboard but fresh chilli or chilli flakes/powder will also work to give a good kick. The tahini lemon dressing and parsley add a nutty creamy element and welcome freshness.
1 large eggplant
1 red onion
200g cherry tomatoes, halved
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 red chilli, fresh or rehydrated, finely chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 can chopped tomatoes
Parsley, roughly chopped
3 tbsp tahini
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ lemon, juiced
1. Heat oven to 190C fan. Chop eggplant into small chunks and arrange on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast for 25 minutes until soft and cooked through.
2. Meanwhile, heat a pan with oil over a medium heat. Add the red onion and cherry tomatoes and cook down until soft and the tomatoes are releasing their juices, about 10 minutes.
3. At this point, I get my water boiling to cook the pasta or any grain I’m using.
4. Add the garlic, chilli, tomato and spices to the pan and cook for 2 minutes until fragrant. Then add the chopped tomatoes and simmer everything together for 5 minutes.
5. When the eggplant is roasted, add half of the cooked pieces to the pan. Gently crush the eggplant and tomatoes in the pan and cook down for 5 minutes, until you have a rich, thick sauce. Stir through the rest of the eggplant and half of the chopped parsley. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
6. Mix the tahini together in a bowl with the water, olive oil and lemon juice. When ready to serve, drizzle the tahini on top with the chopped parsley.