Rigatoni with aubergine (eggplant), sausage and Zinfandel sauce
A really robust pasta dish from my book Cooking with Wine - perfect for cold weather eating. The wine gives a richer, more warming flavour than the usual tomato-based sauce.
350g Italian sausages or other coarsely ground 100% pork sausages
4 tbsp olive oil
1 medium aubergine (about 250-300g) cut into cubes
1 medium onion (about 150g), peeled and finely chopped
1 medium red pepper (about 150g), de-seeded and cut into roughly 2 cm squares
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
1 rounded tbsp tomato puree
1 level tsp dried oregano
175ml zinfandel or other full bodied fruity red wine
175ml fresh chicken or light vegetable stock made with a teaspoon of vegetable bouillon powder
350g dried rigatoni or penne pasta
4 heaped tbsp freshly chopped parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Slit the sausage skins with a sharp knife, peel off the skin and chop the sausage meat roughly. In a large frying pan or wok heat 1 tbsp of the olive oil and brown the sausagemeat breaking it up with a spatula or wooden spoon. Remove the meat from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add another 2 tbsp of oil to the pan and stir fry the aubergine for 3-4 minutes till it starts to brown. Add the remaining oil and chopped onion and fry for a couple of minutes then add the red pepper and fry for another minute or two.
Return the sausagemeat to the pan, stir in the tomato puree and cook for a minute then add the garlic, oregano and red wine. Simmer until the wine has reduced by half then add the stock, stir, and leave over a low heat to simmer while you cook the pasta following the instructions on the pack.
When the pasta is just cooked spoon off a couple of tablespoons of the cooking water into the sauce then drain it thoroughly and tip it into the sauce along with 3 tablespoons of the parsley.
Mix well together and leave off the heat for 2-3 minutes for the flavours to amalgamate. Check the seasoning, adding salt and pepper to taste. Spoon the pasta and sauce into warm bowls and sprinkle with a little of the remaining parsley. You could also sprinkle over some grated parmesan if you like though I’m not sure that it needs it.
Recommended wine match:
Given you've got a bottle of Zinfandel open that would be the obvious match but you could also drink a southern Italian red like a Primitivo or a Syrah.
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