Heady with the scent of fresh basil, this simple, vegetable-based pasta recipe is a must for hot summer nights.
From the book
This is my harlequin pasta, another recipe from the Italian food writer Rita Pane that has become a summer favourite, especially if we are a big group. The beauty is that the heat of the pasta and vegetables melts and softens the edges of the mozzarella and Parmesan which unites everything. You can roast the vegetables but frying is best. You could do this in advance, but they will need warming through in the oven before you mix everything together. Use loads of basil – the scent should fill your nose and the room.
|olive or vegetable oil, for frying|
|1||large aubergine, diced into 1cm cubes|
|1||red pepper, diced into 1cm cubes|
|2||courgettes, diced into 1cm cubes|
|2||large ripe tomatoes|
|1||clove of garlic, peeled and crushed|
|600g||mezze maniche, penne, fusilli, rigatoni|
|Big Sprig||fresh basil leaves, ripped|
Bring a large pan of water to the boil for the pasta.
Pour enough oil into a deep, medium-sized frying pan for it to come 2.5cm up the sides and heat until hot. Working in batches, fry the diced vegetables in the oil until soft and golden, then blot on a kitchen towel, season with salt and keep warm. Tip the oil from the pan.
Plunge the tomatoes into the almost boiling water for a minute, then lift them out with a slotted spoon and refresh under cold water, at which point the skins should slip off. Roughly chop the tomatoes.
Put the frying pan back on the heat with 4 tablespoons of new oil and the garlic. Once the garlic is fragrant, add the chopped tomatoes and a pinch of salt and cook until soft and saucey – about 10 minutes.
Once the water is boiling, add salt, stir, then add the pasta and cook until al dente. Once the pasta is ready, drain, tip into the tomato pan and toss.
Tip the pasta and sauce into a large bowl, add the fried vegetables, Parmesan, mozzarella and ripped basil, toss thoroughly and serve.