Ella Mills' Spicy Sun-Dried Tomato and Eggplant Ragu

This recipe for her cookbook “Healthy Made Simple” has become Ella Mills' go-to when she's cooking for friends and family. She says it's always a hit, and “you get maximum flavor for minimal effort.” She pops ingredients into a mini chopper and blitzes them so they’re finely chopped and coat the spaghetti in a ragu-style sauce.

SPICY SUN-DRIED TOMATO AND EGGPLANT RAGU

Serves: 4

Time: 30 minutes

INGREDIENTS

100g (3.5 ounces) walnuts, finely chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, blitzed in a mini chopper or very finely chopped

2 eggplant, blitzed in a mini chopper or very finely chopped

2 bunches of flat-leaf parsley (about 50g or 1.7 ounces)

4 servings of pasta; spaghetti or tagliolini (about 75g or 2.6 ounces per person)

sea salt and pepper

FOR THE PASTE

4 garlic cloves

2 tablespoons harissa

1 red chili

juice of 1 lemon

1 × 190g (or 6.7 ounces) jar sun-dried tomatoes (120g or 4.3 ounces drained weight)

Chef’s Note: The eggplant really needs to be cut into 1 cm (0.4 inches) pieces or smaller, or else it won’t cook quickly enough and you won’t get the same flavours and textures.

DIRECTIONS

1. Place a frying pan on a high heat and add the walnuts. Toast for about 3 minutes, tossing them a couple of times, then pour them into a small bowl and place to one side.

2. Using the same pan, start the ragu. Pour in the olive oil and warm it over a medium heat, then add the onion and eggplant with some salt and cook for 5 minutes, until they are starting to soften.

3. While they cook, make the paste. Put the garlic, harissa, chili, sun-dried tomatoes plus 3 tablespoons of olive oil from their jar, and the lemon juice into a mini chopper or food processor and blitz until they form a thick, chunky paste. If you don’t have a processor you can finely chop everything and stir it together. Add the sun-dried tomato mix to the eggplant and cook everything together on a low heat for about 10 minutes, until the veg is tender and the sauce is flavorsome.

4. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in boiling salted water, following the instructions on the pack. Once the pasta is cooked, add 150ml (0.6 cups) of the pasta water to the ragu, and stir until you have a lovely glossy sauce.

5. Stir in the drained pasta, walnuts and parsley, and cook everything together for a minute or so. Season to taste and serve with lots of pepper.

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From "Healthy Made Simple,” by Ella Mills, published by Yellow Kite, an imprint of Hodder & Stoughton, 2024.

The Associated Press