There are certain Italian recipes that definitely have a special place in my heart. This is definitely one of them. I had paccheri all norma when I first visited Sicily (one of my favourite part of Italy) with Sam and I just fell in love with the simplicity of the flavours. It all comes down to use juicy tomatoes and seasonal aubergines. Back then I wasn’t vegan so I had it with the traditional grated pecorino cheese on top. Luckily these days the vegan cheese options are getting better and better so I have just replaced it with this Greek style ( I know sounds weird, but it works trust me) from Sainsbury’s own vegan cheese range. It’s a simple an d humble recipes as most Italian recipes but nevertheless it never fails to be utterly delicious.
1 onion – finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic – minced
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp of tomato puree
200gr of good quality cherry tomatoes
Salt & pepper to season
1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil + extra to drizzle on top
A handful of fresh basil leaves
Around 300/400gr of paccheri pasta – if you can fin them rigatoni or penne would work as well
A generous sprinkle of vegan cheese on top – I have used Sainsbury’s Greek Style but Violife does an amazing vegan parmesan style cheese!
Chop the aubergine into small cubes. Add them to a colander and add a generous sprinkle of salt. Give them a quick toss and leave them in the sink or on a plate for 20 minutes. The salt will help drain the moisture out making the tomato sauce rich and thick.
To large pan add the oil and once hot add the chopped onion and garlic. Cook for 5-8 minutes until the onion starts to caramelised. Add the in the chopped aubergine and cook for another 5-8 minutes until they start to brown. Add in the tinned tomatoes, tomato puree and cherry tomatoes (no need to cut them). Mix everything together, cover with a lid and cook on a simmer for 20-25 minutes. Check the salt and add more if you need.
Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions. Drain, toss the pasta in the pan with the sauce, add the fresh basil, sprinkle of vegan cheese and a crack of black pepper. Enjoy!