Sunday, November 18, 2007

A Pasta Dish To Do Your Chores To

Oricchiette with Eggplant Ragout

For the most part I never knew what a ragu was for a very long time. All my life in fact. When I heard the term ragu, my mind would usually conceive a visual image of something more along the lines of
beef tripe, or something exotic and mildly freakish like ox tongue stew. But it wasn't until I made this pasta dish for a friend that they mentioned this concoction was in fact like a ragu. I gave her a blank stare, as if she had just spoken to me in Elvish or something.

Although traditionally made with ground beef a rugu is essentially a rich tomato based sauce made for pasta that is cooked slowly over low heat. The name is derived from the French ragoƻter, which means to revive or stimulate the taste of. So I guess essentially this pasta sauce has the basic attributes of an Italian ragu, just without the meat.

Oricchiette with Eggplant Ragout

I made this dish on a lazy day-off that I spent doing menial chores. And of all chores I hate doing, laundry is probably the one I detest most. It's not the washing part that annoys me, it's more the hanging the clothes part that is the bore. And because I want to stay eco-friendly, I always like to use the sun whenever possible. So it makes it even more a task having to put all the clothes into a basket, go outside and proceed to hang each item one peg at a time.

I've been known to leave the damp clothes in the laundry basket for hours while I try to force the most minuscule amount of motivation to bring myself to put those clothes on the line. It's a struggle every time. And then there's the part where you have to take the clothes off the line, and it all seems redundant in the end. But I guess clean clothes are a necessity in life.

Oricchiette with Eggplant Ragout

But I later found out that if there was anything that would motivate me to get out and take the time to hang my laundry out on the line, it would have to be this ragu. I guess with any sort of chore, I could get through it with this ragu. See, you can start with the vacuuming, then with the dishes, then with the laundry and just before it's time to take the ragu off the stove, all you need to do is go outside and put those clothes on the line. And by that time you will be smelling the aroma of thick tomato sauce, basil and sweet eggplants bubbling away from the outside. You will have no choice but to make haste back into your house. I know it worked for me. I 've nver hung clothes with that much determination to finish.

Oricchiette with Eggplant Ragout

Next time it comes around to housework, I know what will jolt me into action to get through the most mundane of tasks. With this simple pasta dish waiting at the end of your labour, I don't know what better reward there could be.

If you want you can substitute the eggplant with some shredded or ground meat or if you want the dish to stay vegetarian, then perhaps use zucchini or pumpkin instead.

And if you need more ideas to get you started with pasta dishes why not head over to Presto Pasta Nights at Once Upon a Feast. There's a bevy of pasta recipes that could keep you going for a year. Enjoy!

Orecchiette with Eggplant Ragu
Serves 8

Oricchiette with Eggplant Ragout

1 small brown onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, crushed

5 anchovies
sea salt
6 medium sized eggplants (aubergines), peeled and diced
50g Portobello mushrooms, diced

2 x 400g canned tomatoes

fresh basil leaves

500g orecchiette

extra virgin olive oil

cracked black pepper

Over medium heat, in a large saucepan heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil.

Add the onions and fry until onions become translucent.
Add the garlic and anchovies and stir until the anchovies dissolve.

Add sea salt to season, mix for about 2 minutes.
Add the chopped eggplants and mushrooms and cook for about 5 more minutes or until the eggplant begins to soften.

Pour in the canned tomatoes and grab a small handful of fresh basil leaves and add to the mixture, stir to combine.
Leave to simmer over low heat for 30-40 minutes.

While ragu is simmering, boil 1 litre of water in a pot.

When water comes to a rolling boil, add a generous amount of sea salt.

Add the orecchiette and cook for the amount of time specified on the package.

Drain and drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil before topping with ragu.
Season with cracked black pepper and more sea salt to taste.


Anonymous said...

Personally, this is folding the clothes that I hate the most. A no fuss recipe that we can also make after a hard day at work.

browniegirl said...

Ahhhh I know that feeling well, it resides in me :( and when I look again the laundry basket is overflowing!!!!!! A fab looking recipe thanx. Will definitely try this.

Peabody said...

Beautiful photos on this one.

ley said...

Interesting. I never knew what a ragu was either, apparantly- I'd always envisioned a hearty, Italian-style borscht or something. Looks good!

Joy said...

Hanging out washing must be one of the most futile tasks in existence. The worst is when it starts raining mid-way through. When I lived at home I used to pretend I hadn't realised it was raining (belligerent teenager that I was) just to avoid the un-pegging/re-pegging polava.

I suppose it is mildly better than walking around in clothes that smell of fusty wet wool because you left them to dry in the basket though...

This sauce looks delicious. I made a very simple tomato one (from Orangette) last night which made the impending sock balling seem much more bearable.

Anonymous said...

These pictures are absolutely adorable - so homey yet clean. I'll be using this as motivation in the near future.

LizNoVeggieGirl said...

I always thought that ragu WAS a meat-based sauce - what a THRILLING surprise to find out that it is a veg-based sauce!! whoo hoo!! :0D

haha, I actually like doing laundry - other chores? no thanks ;0)

Milf Gone Wild said...

Ooh goodie... food porn. My tongue is hanging out. I want pasta and ragu, can't be arsed to cook it though!

Anonymous said...

That looks so tasty! I'm actually having pasta and meat sauce for dinner tonight but yours looks so much better than mine will! :)

test it comm said...

Nice photos!

Jen said...

Kim Vallee- Oh I hate both the hanging and the folding and the ironing. Just the whole lot of it I guess.

CollyWolly- I'm glad I'm not the only one who knows how this feels.

Peabody- Thanks!!

Ley- At least your image of ragu was a lot closer to mine.

Joy- Yes I guess the only thing that is stopping me from hanging clothes altogether is the thought of having to wear smelly clothes.

Claire- I'm glad you found some inspiration through this dish.

Veggie Girl- Well so did when I saw the definition for it. but then I came across a heap of vegetarian recipes.

Milf Gone Wild- Glad to be of service to you : )

HIllary- I just saw your pasta dish and it looks scrumptious!!

Kevin- Thanks!!

P 31 said...

hi! I frequent your blog and I love your photos! If you dont mind, what camera are you using? thanks!

Ruth Daniels said...

the ragu does look scrumptious. Thanks for sharing with Presto Pasta Nights. It's perfect for bringing warmth and light to a dreary season.

Anonymous said...

man, you really are a great photographer!

Cate said...

The sauce looks so good and hearty - yum!

Anonymous said...

Just a little precisation: in Italian the correct name is "Orecchiette"

Siri said...

Hey Jenjen,

I am totally mesmerized by ur amazing photos... and the pasta looks so yummy! Will definitely try this..:D

~ Siri

Gloria Baker said...

So nice recipe and picture!! Gloria

SIG said...

Love your photography... first time visiting your blog. I have to agree about the laundry bit. Actually laundry is my favourite thing to do of all the chores, second only to washing dishes, but lately, I have become like you, just leaving the laundry in the washing machine as long as possible till I really have no choice but to hang them. Have become way too lazy...

Flo Bretzel said...

Your Ragu looks delicious. Pasta at home tonight!

Clumsy Cook said...

MMMmmn, I love the sound on anchovies in this sauce. Lovely pictures as well!

Alissa @ Creative With Kids said...

lol- I am on the computer procrastinating dealing with the laundry and have come upon your post. Hmmm, food motivation to get laundry done. You may be onto something here.