Patty Pan and the Sicilian Aubergine Mystery

Like many cooks I fear, I do have a habit of lighting upon something that looks very interesting, buying it in a fit of enthusiasm and then forgetting all about it until the fridge thins out and reveals all.

This usually coincides of course with an absence of a few days, and returning home after all the shops have shut!  Thus it was yesterday, and my fresh supplies were running low.  Low enough to reveal though some delicious, albeit unusual combinations to try.  I had been given a few days earlier a Yellow Patty Pan squash and my enthused purchase had been a  wonderful globular Sicilian Aubergine, resplendent in pinkish purple and white.

Sicilian Aubergines

Sicilian Aubergines (Photo credit: designwallah)

To this I thought I had little enough to add, but some rooting about found a few organic supplies still unconsumed.  A carrot, some fresh ginger, a solitary green bean from the allotment, some smoked garlic and a tin of chopped Italian tomatoes along with a packet of Mozzarella.

I am, I freely confess, an Organic produce aficionado.  It may be more expensive (but not always) It may look sometimes a bit misshapen and irregular  (well so do I and what the heck!)

I waste very little of my produce purchases, in fact anything in the way of off-cuts is always destined for the compost anyway so you could say what goes around comes around, as the late, great Bob Marley said!

Anyway, enough prattling and on to the important stuff, FOOD!

Ingredients for 4 hungry people:

One Sicilian Aubergine, topped and then quartered longways and then into further 10 mm slices;  one Patty Pan Squash, topped and tailed, then cut in half across ways and the seeds scooped out, then into 20 mm slices;  one carrot;  2″ fresh ginger peeled;  one green runner bean, cut into 20 mm diagonal chunks;  smoked garlic, 2 fat cloves, just crushed;   1 x 400 ml tin Italian chopped tomatoes; A 275 g packet of organic Mozzarella;  Olive Oil; dried Oregano; 400 g of broad ribbon pasta like Pappardelle or similar, sea salt.

Medium heat your oil in a high sided fry pan, then add the aubergine slices turning to coat with oil (you may need to add a little oil to the later slices).  Keep the heat down to prevent charring and sprinkle the aubergines slices liberally with oregano turning to ensure even distribution.  It is the addition of oregano to aubergine dishes that gives them that Taste of Sicily!  Then add your Patty Pan and stir in gently.  Allow them to get acquainted at a low temperature while you open the tomatoes, pour yourself a glass of wine, etc., etc………………….

When the mix has nicely softened add the chopped tomatoes and the crushed garlic, stir and simmer.  Then using the fairly coarse side to your grater (I bought an OXO one recently and found it great, although a danger to unwary fingertips!) grate first the ginger in and stir well, then the carrot and stir that well in too.  Finally add your green bean!  Allow to simmer ’til the bean is al dente.

With your pasta water (I always put a little salt and olive oil in too) at a rolling boil, add your Pappardelle and ease into the water.  While it is cooking to the famous Al Dente stage, drain the brine from your Mozzarella packet and tear the soft cheese up, scattering it over your simmering dish.

Drain the pasta well and serve with it surrounding the gloriously coloured dish.  If you, and I suspect you won’t, have any left it makes an equally delicious cold Antipasti  for lunch the next day.

Buono Appetito!

Just before the Mozzarella!

Just before the Mozzarella!

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Pappardelle Con La Coniglio

A quick, simple, cheap, and most importantly, delicious meal for 4.  If you have a local butcher where you can find fresh rabbit, use them.  You probably know that rabbits were always hung outside butchers with at least one paw still on, and that this was because anatomically rabbits are almost indistinguishable from cats……..  Plus supermarket rabbit is generally sourced from China……..  Why buy something of doubtful quality that has been sent thousands of miles instead of supporting local shops?

Ingredients:

14 oz Pappardelle pasta [rippled edged ribbon-like pasta which is wonderful for holding all the wonderful sauce!]  You can use Tagliatelle  if you must, but try to find it instead – and you’ll never eat Tagliatelle again!  1 lb minced Rabbit, preferably organic.  You are very unlikely to find this is the supermarket but if you’ve cultivated your friendly local butcher [if not, why not?]  he will at least clean and section it for you.  If you cannot mince it, strip and chunk the rabbit meat into small pieces;  2 cloves of garlic, not sliced, just peeled and bashed flat!; 1 large onion, sliced and diced; 1 or 2 sticks of celery, chopped, including the leaves; 2 rashers of unsmoked back bacon, sliced into strips; 3 glasses of dry white Italian wine, 1 for the meal, 2 for the cook…..; 3 tbsp Olive Oil, sea salt and black pepper.

Heat the oil in a large casserole or thick bottomed saucepan, with a lid.  Add the onion, celery and bacon and cook gently ’til the onion is softened and browning then add the garlic and cook, stirring for another 2 mins.  Then add the rabbit and cook for another 5 mins.  Turn the heat up briefly and add the white wine.  As soon as it has boiled off, turn back to simmer.   Let it cook away for 30-40 mins, keeping an eye on it, stirring regularly, and if necessary adding a little more water or stock to stop the sauce from thickening too much.  Check and add a little black pepper if needed.

With your pasta water at a rolling boil, add a little olive oil and sea salt, then ease in your Pappardelle.  Cook ’til ‘al dente’, then drain well.  Fold into your sauce and serve immediately.

Buono Appetito!