Penne Pasta with Aubergine and Tomato Sauce / Penne  con Melanzane e Salsa di Pomodoro

Penne Pasta with Aubergine and Tomato Sauce

Penne  con Melanzane e Salsa di Pomodoro

This recipe has been created in Umbria, the fifth smallest region in Italy. The region has no coastline but has borders with three other Italian regions; Tuscany, Marche and Lazio.

Adapted from a recipe by Ursula Ferrigno in her book “Truly Italian – quick and simple vegetarian cooking”.

Penne are tubes of pasta that resemble small quill pens. They are either ridged or smooth and can vary in length (pennette are slightly smaller than penne). This recipe was devised by the Lungarotti family who own a charming vineyard and wine museum in Torgiano, Umbria, very near where I teach. Many people believe that it isn’t necessary these days to salt or ‘degorge’ aubergines, but I think it’s still vital. The aubergines are tenderer, have more flavour and do not absorb so much of the cooking oil.” Ursula Ferrigno

Ingredients: Serves 4

  • 1 medium, firm and ripe aubergine
  • freshly ground fine sea salt and black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons best-quality olive oil for cooking
  • 3 tablespoons red wine, good enough to drink
  • 1 small white onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
  • I x 400g can Italian chopped tomatoes
  • 200 g Italian passata
  • 275g Italian dried pennette or penne (quills)
  • 2 tablespoons double cream
  • I tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated vegetarian pecorino sheep’s cheese


  1. Cut the aubergine into small cubes, spread out on a kitchen paper lined tray, sprinkle with fine salt and cover with more paper. Leave for 15 minutes. Rinse the aubergine cubes to remove the salt, and pat dry with fresh kitchen paper.
  • Heat half of the olive oil in a frying pan, add the aubergine and fry for 5 minutes until golden. Add the wine and simmer for 5 minutes, then season with salt and pepper.
  • In a separate frying pan, over a medium heat warm the rest of the olive oil and add then add the onion and garlic. Add a pinch of salt and cook for 5 minutes until the onion is translucent but not burnt. Stir frequently.
  • Add the aubergine to the onion and garlic and mix together. Add the tomatoes and passata to the frying pan, stir to mix and bring up to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes (add a little water if necessary). Stir occasionally.
  • Add the pasta to a large pot of boiling salted water, bring back to the boil and cook for about 12 minutes or according to the packet instructions, stirring occasionally.
  • Just before serving the sauce, stir in the cream, oregano and parsley (leave some for a garnish) to the sauce, and taste to check the seasoning.
  • Turn the heat off under the pasta. Use a perforated spoon and transfer the drained pasta into the sauce and mix it into the sauce thoroughly.
  • Serve immediately into warm dishes. Drizzle over some extra virgin olive oil, grate the pecorino cheese over the top and garnish with the rest of the parsley.

Produced by John Fletcher at

This is a panoramic view of Perugia in the north of Umbria. It is the regional capital city. 

Published by

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Create a website or blog at
%d bloggers like this: