CLASSIC pasta penne Ortolano (a primavera sauce)








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This is a vegetable sauce, really it qualifies as a kind of primavera sauce. Ortolano means green grocer. This variation combines eggplant as the main ingredient, along with zucchini, a bell pepper and tomatoes.

for the sauce:

  • one-third cup extra virgin olive oil
  • one small red onion, minced
  • three large cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
  • pinch of hot red pepper flakes
  • one small red bell pepper (or orange or yellow)
  • one-half pound eggplant
  • one-half pound zucchini
  • one pound ripe plum tomatoes
  • one-quarter cup basil leaves
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • one-half cup freshly grated pecorino cheese

for the pasta:

  • one pound of penne is ideal, although fusilli would also work

Prepare the zucchini. Wash in cold water for ten minutes and then wipe dry. Cut off the ends. Then cut the zucchini into approximately 1/2 inch cubes. The best way to do this is to cut the zucchini in half, lengthwise. If the zucchini is large, cut each half again, length-wise. And then cut the strips in half-inch pieces. This should give you the proper approximate shape.

Prepare the eggplant. Peel the eggplant. Cut into approximate half inch cubes. Put the eggplant dices in a sieve and sprinkle with a teaspoon or so of salt. Let the sieve sit, over a sink, a half hour. Toss the eggplant cubes a couple of times with a slotted spoon.

Prepare the pepper. Peel and seed it and then cut it into quarter inch cubes.

Prepare the tomatoes. Cut them, unpeeled, into half inch cubes.

Over a medium high heat, add the olive oil. When heated, add the eggplant, and saute for about five minutes. The cubes should just be starting to brown. Add the zucchine and saute for another three minutes.

Add the garlic, onion, a teaspoon of salt and some freshly ground pepper and the pepper flakes and saute for another two minutes until the onion starts to soften. Then add the bell pepper cubes and saute another two minutes.

Add the tomatoes and the basil and bring to a simmer, Cook steadily, stirring often, until the tomatoes start to break down into a sauce. This should be about five minutes.

Meanwhile bring 4-5 quarts of water to a raging boil. Add a tablespoon of salt. Drop in the pasta and stir. Continue cooking until al dente. Drain somewhat, although the pasta should carry a little moisture.

Bring the sauce to heat again. Add the pasta to the sauce. Stir very well. Add the pecorino. Stir again. Cover and cook for a minute over medium heat.

Stir again and serve, with additional pecorino on the side.



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