Rigatoni with Tomato, Eggplant, Fennel + Sausage {vegan}

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A robust summer pasta dish to eat at the peak of tomato and eggplant season. Made hearty with chunks of vegan sausage, plenty of garlic, chilli flakes, olive oil and a whole bunch of basil. 

I’ve been loving just living off fruit, salads and cold noodle type dishes for dinner this summer. Fresh food, not tampered with too much. Asian ingredients have been on heavy rotation – miso, soy, green onions, sriracha, ginger, etc. For big punches of flavour without the effort of cooking anything. Also, tahini has really been making itself known in my kitchen for the last few weeks. And I’ll pack tomatoes into anything I can while they’re still at their peak. Sad white-on-the-inside winter tomatoes are just something to look at and walk away from. And then I was tired of all the freshness and had a craving for a big meaty, carby pasta dish. Looking in the fridge I had an opened bag of rigatoni, an eggplant that was asking to be cooked, punnets of cherry tomatoes, and a few other truss tomatoes hanging around. I picked up some fresh basil and vegan sausages on the way home from work, and so this pasta was born!

It’s meaty and hearty while still tasting of summer, making good use of the sweet tomatoes, eggplant, and basil that are currently at their peak. Find the nicest vegan sausages you can, some of them can be a little sub-par. I like to use Linda McCartney or Suzy Spoon sausages generally, and they are readily available where I live. Served with a healthy sprinkling of almond or cashew warm, an extra hit of olive oil and some chilled wine, this is a summer meal I’ll return to again and again. A big pot of this in the middle of the table, a giant spoon to scoop mounds of pasta onto plates, parmesan in a bowl, wine by the bottle, and you have a solid dinner party. 

Rigatoni with Tomato, Eggplant, Fennel + Sausage {vegan}

vegan, gf option
A robust Summer pasta dish to eat at the peak of tomato and eggplant season. It would be a crime to serve this without a good bottle of red.
Servings 6

Ingredients

  • 350 g rigatoni pasta or gf pasta of choice
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 300 g vegan sausages e.g. Linda McCartney sausages, check they are gf if needed
  • 3 cloves garlic thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp chili flakes
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 800 g cherry tomatoes and/or any good fresh tomatoes roughly chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar if your tomatoes aren't very sweet
  • 1 large eggplant cut into medium dice
  • 1 bunch basil leaves picked
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar plus more to taste
  • salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
  • almond or cashew parmesan to serve

Instructions

  • Bring a large pot of well salted water to the boil, add rigatoni pasta and cook until just al dente. Reserve 2 cups of cooking water then drain pasta.
  • While the pasta is cooking make the sauce: In a large pan or pot heat 2 tbsp of olive oil over medium‐high heat. Add the vegan sausages and fry until golden brown on one side, then flip and cook until golden on the other side. Break up into small chunks and fry a little longer, then remove to a plate.
  • In the same pan heat another 2 tbsp of olive oil over low‐medium heat. Add the sliced garlic, chilli flakes and fennel seeds. Cook for a minute or two just until the garlic is fragrant but not coloured. Add in the chopped tomatoes. Throw in a good pinch of salt and a few cracks of pepper, along with the sugar if your tomatoes aren't particularly sweet, then allow to bubble away stirring occasionally until the tomatoes have broken down into a thick, sweet sauce (about 10–15 minutes). Remove from the heat.
  • Get a fry pan nice and hot, coat the pan with a couple of tbsp of olive oil then fry your diced eggplant in 2 or 3 batches, stirring them around often until they're nicely browned on all edges. Add more olive oil each time to coat the pan. As each batch is finished, add them to the pan with the cooked down tomatoes.
  • Once you've finished frying the eggplant, roughly chop most of the basil and add it to the sauce with the heat on low, along with the red wine vinegar and about a cup of the reserved pasta cooking water. Stir in the sausage chunks and the cooked pasta. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add more vinegar if you think it needs it, as well as extra pasta cooking water if the sauce is too thick. Stir in the remaining whole basil leaves.
  • Once everything is warmed through, serve pasta with plenty of almond/cashew parmesan and an extra drizzle of olive oil.

Join the Conversation

  1. Courtney says:

    I never comment on recipes but I had to come back and leave one as I made this tonight and it was DELICIOUS! I also added spinach and it was so hearty, will definitely make again and again and again!

    1. Sorry for the late reply lovely! So glad you loved it 😁 This is one of my favourites as well, love the spinach addition xx

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