City break to Rome: My Sicilian Vegetable Stew

This recipe was inspired by a trip to Rome, find out more in my City break in Rome Series.

Alter of the Fatherland, Rome Photo: Russell Bowes

Alter of the Fatherland, Rome Photo: Russell Bowes

I love a big bowl of rich pasta and chunky sauce to tuck into on a cold winters evening. Is there anything much better than curling up on the sofa with this, and perhaps a big glass of bold red wine. When we visited Rome I thought it was interesting that a lot of the pasta dishes there were served with far less sauce than back home. It made a change and I have tried serving pasta that way a few times since we came back. But sometimes I feel like having a big hearty and chunky sauce with pasta.

I adapted this recipe from a traditional Sicilian Vegetable Stew recipe which I found. I figured this would make a really substantial pasta sauce and a filling dish, perfect for a winter evening. I added a few extra bits and bobs I had leftover in the fridge, like red onion and courgette and mixed herbs. I also left out a few recommended things like raisins and pine kernels. Come to think of it, I’m not sure how much like the original recipe this is, or whether this would be a ‘traditional’ Sicilian vegetable stew; it is however one I liked making and eating.

My Sicilian vegetable stew.

Ingredients for 2 people

1 large aubergine
1 red onion
1 courgette
2 sticks of celery
3 large tomatoes
1 red pepper
1 tbsp tomato puree, mixed in a little water
1 tsp caster sugar
1 tbsp capers, rinsed
20 black olives, rinsed
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
Black pepper
2-3 tsp mixed herbs
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp extra virgin, olive oil

To serve: spaghetti for two.


Sicilian vegetable stew Photo: Russell Bowes

Sicilian vegetable stew Photo: Russell Bowes

Prepare the vegetables (aubergines, courgettes, and all) by chopping into bit sized chunks. I sliced the celery a bit smaller than the rest and diced the red onion. Soak the aubergine in water for a few minutes, then dry. This stops the aubergine absorbing too much oil.

Fry the red onion with the celery and herbs in olive oil, till softened. After 5 minutes or so add the aubergine and continue to fry till the aubergine is soft too. It should take around 10 minutes, then add the tomatoes, courgettes and red pepper. Mix the tomato puree with a little water and pour in. Stir everything together.

Frying aubergine Photo: Russell Bowes

Frying aubergine Photo: Russell Bowes

After 2 minutes add the sugar, capers, olives, white wine vinegar, black pepper and balsamic vinegar. Stir everything together. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and slowly cook it for around half an hour.

When almost ready to serve, prepare the pasta according to its instructions. Drain the pasta and serve with the vegetable stew.

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