Spaghetti di orzo al pomodoro con crema di melanzane

(= Barley Spaghetti with Tomatoes and Aubergine Cream)

Recommended wine: La Brumosa
Ingredients for 4/5 people:400 g barley and durum wheat spaghetti2 aubergines (approx. 200 g)250 g cherry tomatoes½ onion (100 g)1 clove of garlic2 tbsp grated pecorino cheese (plus a small bowlful to put on the table) 7-8 large basil leaves6 tbsp tbsp extra virgin olive oil chilli pepper salt and pepper

Wash the aubergines, cut off the ends and then slice them in half lengthwise. Prick their skin with a fork and place them, with the skin facing upwards (so that the bitter vegetation water can escape), in a baking pan lined with greaseproof paper. Cook them in the oven, at 220 °C, for approximately 30 minutes. Take the aubergines out of the oven and let them cool down a bit; pass a knife around the edge to cut the flesh and then remove it with a spoon. Put it in a food processor with the grated pecorino, peeled clove of garlic, 3-4 basil leaves, salt, pepper and 2 tablespoons of oil. Blend until you obtain a dense cream (1) and then put it to one side. Finely chop the onion and sauté it in a heavy-bottomed frying pan (large enough to contain the pasta later on) with 4 tablespoons of olive oil. When the onion has softened add the cherry tomatoes, cut in half, the remaining basil leaves and the chilli pepper. Season with salt, stir well and cook for 5 minutes. Cook the pasta, strain it when its “al dente” (setting aside a little of the water it was cooked in) and tip it into the frying pan with the tomato sauce. Stir, add the aubergine cream and “toss” everything in the pan to mix thoroughly. If it seems too dry, add a little of the water the pasta was cooked in and stir again. Serve the pasta nice and hot with grated pecorino to sprinkle on top.

(1) You can also use this cream to prepare crostini or other appetizers: it can be spread on toasted bread, crackers or Sardinian “pane Carasau” (= thin, crisp flatbread), on slices of (Tuscan!) ham or salami that are then rolled up to form little roulades, and also on chunks of aged pecorino cheese.