04 Jul // Meat Free Monday with Emma and Tane

I had the weekend in Wellington, which was delightful (instagramming up a storm, as per), and weirdly enough there is nothing like the comfort yet strangeness of a hotel room that gives me a bit of career clarity. Things swing from pretty quiet to insanely busy very quickly around here, and my bank balance reflects that (dizzying highs, crushing lows). This year especially I have found freelancing hard and despite very occasionally trawling seek for legal jobs, I pretty much always feel on the brink of something really exciting, which makes it all feel worthwhile and keeps me hanging on. Seeing this post on instagram this morning hit the message home. Being in Wellington, my former hood, reminded me that blogging was where it all began, and that it really was time to blog the backlog of photos and stories that are sitting on my computer and in my head and in the trusty notes section of my phone. 

And so, we begin my re-entry into the blogosphere with a little bit of meat-free Monday for you. A global movement, as you may know, to get people thinking about eating less meat (a good thing for both the environment and our bodies and our bank balances) and to get a bit creative. I find myself these days only eating meat if I know where it came from, and cooking it at home less and less. I nearly prefer my friend Laura's approach which is to do Meat Monday - eat good meat on Mondays only and veggie the rest of the time - but I'll stick with this for now (bear with me) because it's currently Monday and the recipe I'm about to share is meat-free. 

So, part of my regular working week is still a column in the Herald on Sunday. Usually it's recipes, but sometimes I get to go and meet cool food people and hear what they cook when they're at home. A couple of months back I spent the afternoon in Arch Hill with Emma Lyell and Tane Williams, owners of K Rd's new Bestie Cafe. It's tucked down the back of St Kevin's Arcade and is an excellent addition to Auckland's breakfast game. Go check it out for a coffee if you are in Auckland and haven't already, and you can read my interview with them here. They are a very awesome young couple and I was stoked to have a yarn over a gin with them. They made fresh pasta and an eggplant and tomato sauce, and it was great. I think the key to a great pasta dish is all in the garnish: freshly microplaned parmesan, good quality olive oil (the kind you hide from your flatmates), a crack of black pepper, a sprinkle of flaky sea salt, a few torn up fresh herbs, and freshly grated lemon zest if you fancy it. You can click through to the original recipe here, or see below for a slightly altered version to take into account the lack of really good fresh tomatoes at the moment. It is the middle of Winter after all. 

  

 

Eggplant and tomato pasta

This recipe first appeared in the Herald on Sunday and is also available here on bite.co.nz.

2 drizzles olive oil

2 onions, finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 generous tsp chilli flakes

3 sundried tomatoes, finely chopped

1 splash wine, anything you have, red or white

1½ kgs tomatoes (in Winter replace with tinned tomatoes or tomato passata or a mix of the two. I use those 500g tins of chopped tomatoes)

2 eggplant

4 servings fresh pasta (I have a recipe here in this article!)

 

Cut a small cross on the bottom of each tomato, and blanch them by carefully dropping them in boiling water, then transferring to cold water. Peel the skins off and set aside. If using tinned tomatoes or passata, omit this step. 

Prick holes in the eggplant and rub with a little olive oil. Roast whole in the oven at about 180C until shriveled – about half an hour. 

Cook off the onion, garlic, and chilli in a little olive oil, in a large heavy bottomed pot on a medium-low heat for about 10 minutes. Add the sundried tomatoes and cook for an additional 5 minutes.

Increase the heat and add a generous splash of wine. Add a little water and then the tomatoes, chopped.

Continue cooking on a medium-low heat.

Remove the eggplants from the oven and allow to cool slightly before carefully cutting them and scooping out the flesh. Season the flesh well with salt and pepper, then add to the tomato sauce mixture.

Cook for another 15-20 minutes.

Cook your fresh pasta for two minutes, then drain well and stir through the sauce. Garnish with lemon zest, fresh basil, and parmesan.