It also has the advantage of being simple enough to kick the bullshit excuses out from under your favourite/adjacent Noncook. This cosmopolitan creature presents two variants; those who have genuinely never had the time or opportunity to learn (I still judge you, but I also accept that you might have a reasonable excuse), and those who simper that they don't know the first thing about food and ooze out of the kitchen like they've just left you enchanted with the prospect of doing everything yourself while they're cruising porn on their laptop. If we were to be a bit more fucking charitable, we could go with the idea that recipes like this cater to the culinary agnostic; to those who admit that cooking may well exist without conceding they will ever possess knowledge of it. Whatever. Consider this casserole a kryptonite buttplug for the domestic shirker. Eggplant is the most exotic component so they can even shop for it unsupervised.
I love tinned tomatoes so much I can't tell you. I know they're supposedly full of pesticides, but as a child of the 70's I'm probably some sort of human/DDT Brundlefly anyway and am therefore merely augmenting my powers with that shit. Don't be afraid of cannellini beans; know baked beans? They're like that, sans orange gloop. Look >, perfectly harmless. You can add whatever bean you please, actually, or none at all. As with most things I cook, the proportions aren't set in stone so just use what you have. Double the tinned tomatoes if you want to make a monster portion. My frying pan was only just big enough for this lot. If you're not into tinned tuna, try a smoked fish like mackerel.
W H A T Y O U ' L L N E E D
- Olive or rice bran oil, or butter to fry
- Black pepper, salt
- 1 large onion
- As much fresh garlic as you like
- Half a large eggplant or 1 whole small
- A big handful of mushrooms
- 1 small/medium tin of tuna or smoked fish
- 1 small tin of tomato paste
- A handful of fresh flat leaf parsley
- 1 400g tin of chopped/crushed tomatoes
- 1 tin of cannellini beans
- 1 Tbspn of tomato relish or apple/quince jelly
- As much pasta of your choice as you need. Couscous etc is also fine with this. Or Vege.
- Cheese of your choice to garnish. Or not.
^ This is the kind of tuna you're after- in oil, nothing too fancy. Masochists can go right ahead and use the kind packed in spring water. Chop the fresh ingredients, open the cans and get it all ready to go. It's like a stir-fry, in that it's better to have everything prepared before you turn on the heat.
> We always chop garlic like this, with its inner paper still on, rather than peeling it. Much faster and the paper just sort of disappears in the pot so don't worry about laboriously skinning each clove. This is my garlic from last year and it's going to seed, hence the green sprouty core. Don't worry about that- it all tastes the same.
> It's pretty important to get these base ingredients looking like this. Blandness will ensue if you don't.
Get some oil into your frying pan, crack some pepper and chop a bit of your fresh parsley into it. Fry that for a bit on high heat before adding the onion. This flavours everything from the bottom up, if you know what I mean.
< Half-brown the onions and chuck in the sliced mushrooms and garlic. When they're almost done, add the eggplant and keep it moving so everything gets a nice brown caramelization happening.
We usually eat wholemeal pasta but it's not exactly photogenic so we'll suffer the white, diabetes-inducing kind today, just for you. To cook the pasta I bring a generous pot of water to the boil, dump in the noodles, stir, turn the ring off and cover. After 10 mins you get great pasta; after 30 mins of internet-fueled absenteeism you get a solid mass of bloated whiteness, so don't forget about it.
< Add your spoon of jelly or relish at this point but don't lose your mind if you don't have them in the kitchen; this is just unnecessary wank really, especially if your tomatoes are nice. Turn the heat down, put a lid on it and cook it gently while you're getting a big pot of salted water boiling for the pasta.
Same goes with the casserole- 30 mins of simmering and nothing more, especially if you're going to reheat; the beans will start to collapse if you go too far. Not the end of the world, but sort of suboptimal.
< Mmmm, leftovers. White pasta especially tends to soak up the sauce so if you've used the whole bag and want to bake it in the oven the next day, you might need to add another half-tin of tomatoes and maybe some anchovies or a little more tuna.
This recipe tides the two of us over for three days and that's an economical meal for you, folks. It will feed 6 reasonable adults pretty well or 4 very hungry/greedy people in one sitting. Serve with good fresh bread and quality parmesan.