I first made this dish nearly 20 years ago and it was an instant hit with my then pre-schoolers. I must say it has remained a firm family favourite.
2 medium eggplants
400 gram tin of Italian tomatoes, emptied into a bowl and squashed with your hand
Olive oil for frying the eggplants
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced thinly
½ teaspoon chilli flakes
Freshly ground pepper
400 grams spaghetti
20 basil leaves torn
Freshly grated parmesan cheese for serving (optional)
Slice the eggplants into 1 centimetre rounds and place in colander layering each layer with salt. Leave to drain in sink for two hours and then pat dry with kitchen paper. It is essential to do this otherwise the eggplant absorbs all the oil and does not get fried.
Heat a large fry pan over a medium heat. Add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Cook in the hot pan, turning two or three times, until well browned and tender. You will need to cook the eggplant in batches; use oil as required.
In the same fry pan, add the extra virgin olive oil and return to heat. When hot, add the sliced garlic, stirring to make sure the garlic does not get burned. Add the tomatoes, pinch of salt, pepper, chilli flakes. Mix and allow to gently come to a simmer. Mix in the fried eggplant rounds and cook for a further five minutes. Cover and keep warm.
Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti as per the instructions on the packet. Drain pasta saving 50mls of pasta water to add to the sauce. Mix in the water and pasta with the sauce. Sprinkle basil leaves and grated parmesan. Serve immediately with a crispy Cos lettuce salad.