Penne Arrabiata with Grilled Aubergine

If you like pasta, a classic Penne Arrabiata is hard to resist. Who doesn’t like a sweet and spicy tomato sauce paired with some aubergines to have a hearty Italian feast. Pasta is a dish that is adapted differently across different countries so my version of penne incorporates a bit of the authentic Italian and an Indian touch (with lots of chilli!). Aubergine Parmigiana is eaten as a side dish across Italy and I have used that as my inspiration to create a grilled version and topping it with caramalised onions.

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Total cook time: 1 hour

Servings: 2


For Penne Arrabiata:

  • 200 gms penne pasta (or any other pasta of choice boiled in salt and 1 tsp oil)
  • 300 gms cherry tomatoes (sliced half)
  • ½ onion roughly chopped
  • Handful basil leaves
  • Handful mint leaves (half of basil leaves)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 5-6 sliced garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp red chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder (mild for the colour)
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 3/4 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • Salt to taste
  • Water as required
  • Handful of Cheese (optional)

For Grilled Aubergine with Caramalised onions:

  • 1 aubergine (sliced long)
  • 3 medium tomatoes (chopped)
  • Handful of fresh herbs (mix of mint, parsley and basil)
  • 3-4 garlic cloves (chopped)
  • 1 tsp olive oil to brush + 2 tsp olive oil to cook
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • ½ onion (sliced long)
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp red chilli flakes
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp grated cheese (for garnish – optional)


For Penne Arrabiata

  1. Boil the pasta with salt and 1 tsp olive oil until they are 1 minute from being completely done.
  2. Drain the water and run the boiled pasta under cold water for about 30 seconds and keep aside.
  3. In a pan, heat 2 tbsp olive oil.
  4. Add the sliced garlic and chopped onion and stir until the onion becomes soft and garlic turns brown (See below).
  5. Add the sliced cherry tomatoes along with the salt, sugar, red chilli flakes, oregano, ground black pepper and mix well.

6. Next add the basil and mint and mix.

7. Add half a cup of water (or slightly more if the sauce is too thick).

8. Cover with a lid to let the cherry tomatoes cook on medium heat for about 12-15 minutes or until it starts to form a sauce (see right image below).

9. Add vinegar and stir.

10. Using a hand blender (or let it cool slightly and transfer to a mixer), blend the tomatoes to a sauce.

11. Add the boiled pasta.

12. Mix the pasta well and add some cubes of cheese (optional) and red chilli powder.

13. Let the pasta cook in the sauce for about 1-2 minutes on medium heat and keep aside.

Grilled Aubergine with Caramalised Onions

  1. Pre-heat the grill. If you do not have a grill, you can roast the aubergines in the oven by pre-heating it at 200 degrees.
  2. Brush the sliced aubergines with oil.
  3. Place the sliced and coated aubergines on the grill and cook until it chars well, flipping the sides. I grilled mine for about 10 minutes as I prefer them really charred so it is on a darker side. You can grill it for a shorter time if you prefer it less charred. Alternatively, roast them in the oven for about 30-35 minutes.

4. In a pan, heat 1½ tsp olive oil.

5. Once hot, add the chopped garlic and let it brown.

6. Once brown, add the chopped tomatoes, spices (red chilli flakes, ground black pepper, salt and sugar) and mix.

7. Cover with a lid and let the tomatoes cook for 6-8 minutes or until they start to form a sauce (see right image). While the sauce is cooking, you can prepare the caramalised onion (step 9).

8. Add the fresh herbs (basil, parsley and mint), vinegar and mix.

9. In another pan, heat ½ tsp olive oil and add the sliced onions.

10. Add a pinch of salt and sugar and let the onions caramelise on a low-medium heat for 8-10 minutes or until they turn soft and golden (see right image), stirring occasionally.

11. Once ready, keep aside.

12. To assemble the dish, place the grilled aubergine on the base of an oven and microwave safe bowl or plate and add the tomato sauce on top of it.

13. Next, add the caramalised onions and grate some cheese and green chillies to garnish (optional).

14. Optional – you can place the bowl at 200 degrees celcius in the oven for 5-8 minutes or microwave it for about 30 seconds (depending on the power of the microwave) to melt the cheese or enjoy without that!

Hope you enjoy this!

Payal & Kaustubh

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