THIS SAUCE HAS GREAT FLAVOURs (SWEET, BRIGHT, summery) and is STRONG ENOUGH TO STAND UP TO WHOLE-WHEAT PASTA. BEANS ADD ADDITIONAL PROTEIN AND MAKE IT A MORE ROUNDED—AND VERY FILLING—MEAL. AT A COST OF TEN DOLLARS OR SO, IT MAKES ABOUT SIX PORTIONS. -JRS
– 1 package penne pasta (I used whole wheat; use whatever you like)
– 2 boxes passata, about 800 g (or 1 800 ml can diced or pureed tomatoes)
– 1 large zucchini, diced
– 1 eggplant, diced (if you have a large eggplant, use half)
– 1 red or yellow bell pepper, diced
– 1 medium onion, diced (or 1/2 a large onion)
– 5 or 6 sundried tomatoes
– 2 cans white beans, drained and rinsed
– 5-6 cloves garlic, sliced or minced
– Tomato paste
– Balsamic vinegar
– Olive oil
– Salt and pepper, to taste
– Chili flakes (optional)
– Fresh basil (optional)
In a sauce pot, add the onion, red pepper, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic and chili flakes. Pour in 3 to 4 tablespoons of olive oil and begin to saute over medium heat until soft, 5 minutes or so.
In the meantime, heat a pan over medium-high heat and pour in a tablespoon or so of olive oil. When the pan is hot, sear the eggplant to put some colour on it, 2 or 3 minutes (turn up the heat if necessary). When ready, pour into the pot with the onions and red pepper. Repeat the process for the zucchini.
Stir everything through and up the heat closer to medium-high. If things stick, add a touch of water. Important: season the vegetables with salt and pepper here (see my post on seasoning here).
Add about 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. Cook off the vinegar for about a minute, stirring. Then add 2 tablespoons of tomato paste, stir and cook for another minute.
Add the rinsed beans (season the beans with a touch of salt) and the passata or canned tomatoes. If you have fresh basil, tear up and toss in maybe eight or ten leaves.
Simmer the sauce for 15 to 20 minutes. Taste; you should be getting the tomatoes, the sun-dried tomatoes, the bell pepper, the basil. Adjust the seasoning by adding more salt and pepper if you like.
Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Optional step: After 7 or 8 minutes, scoop up a ladleful of the pasta water and pour it into the sauce.
When the pasta is ready, drain and put the penne back into the pot. Pour the sauce over the pasta, stir through well to coat, and then let sit off the heat for fifteen or twenty minutes before serving. The penne will soak up the sauce and flavour.