Burnt aubergines, charred vegetables and nutty tahini are what give this dish a real depth and smokiness, resulting in creamy, vegan pasta made without cream, cheese, butter or any of the usual suspects. If you don’t have a griddle pan, char the vegetables in the oven instead.
1 hour 10 minutes
5 aubergines (1.25kg), 2 cut into roughly 3–4cm cubes and 3 left whole
165ml olive oil
1 onion, cut into 6 wedges (150g)
2 small vine tomatoes, left whole (200g)
1 red chilli (10g), left whole
3 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp paprika
7 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp lemon juice
300g dried pasta
shells (conchiglie rigate)
10g parsley, roughly chopped
salt and black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 220°C fan. Put the aubergine cubes on a large, parchment-lined baking tray and toss with 3 tablespoons of oil, 1⁄2 teaspoon of salt and
a good grind of pepper. Roast for 30 minutes, stirring halfway through, until deeply browned and softened.
2. Grill your vegetables. Prick the whole aubergines all over with a fork and ventilate your kitchen well. Place a well-greased griddle pan on a high heat and, once smoking, add the aubergines and cook, turning as necessary, for 35 minutes, or until well charred all over. Set aside to cool slightly. Toss the onion, tomatoes and chilli together in a bowl with a tablespoon of oil and grill in the same pan for 10 minutes, turning as necessary, until very well charred and softened. Transfer to a bowl, discarding the chilli stem. Once cool enough to handle, peel and discard the skin and stems of the charred aubergines (it’s okay if there is still some skin attached) and add the flesh to the bowl of charred vegetables. You should have roughly 320g of aubergine flesh.
3. Meanwhile, put the tomato paste, paprika, three-quarters of the garlic and 4 tablespoons of oil into a small saucepan on a medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is fragrant and the tomato paste has turned dark red, about 5 minutes. Transfer this and the grilled vegetables to a food processor, along with 3⁄4 teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper, and blitz until completely smooth. Transfer to a large sauté pan and set aside. This is your sauce base.
4. In a small bowl, whisk together the tahini, the remaining garlic, the lemon juice, 70ml of water and a pinch of salt until smooth.
5. Cook the pasta in plenty of salted boiling water for 8 minutes, or until al dente. Reserve 275ml of the pasta water, then drain the pasta well.
6. Add the reserved pasta water and half the roasted aubergine to the sauce base and heat through on a medium-high heat. Add the drained pasta and stir to warm through, about 2 minutes.
7. Toss the remaining roasted aubergine with the parsley and the last 3 tablespoons of oil.
8. Transfer the pasta to a large serving platter with a lip, drizzle over a good amount of the tahini sauce, then spoon over the aubergine and parsley mixture. Serve the extra tahini sauce alongside.