A few months ago, seated and perusing the menu at Society Bistro — one of the most fabulous restaurants to ever happen to Cape Town's CBD — my eyes settled on 'Aubergine fettuccine: baked ricotta, chilli, fennel seed, cherry tomatoes.'
I read the line again and thought: 'I want to go to there.'
I have not been able to stop thinking about that dish, so eventually I asked for the recipe. I've never cooked with fennel seeds in a Mediterranean context before, but their subtle flavour goes beautifully with aubergine. I am so delighted with this recipe — and I know you will be too.
The recipe is for one serving, because of course that's how they do it in restaurants, so just double or quadripple the quantities according to your needs. (I should just note here that SB did not provide ingredient quantities in the 'Assembly' section, so I just went with my gut.)
For the aubergine caviar:
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
10g fennel seeds
10g dry chilli flakes
1. Cut aubergine in half lengthways, and score the flesh deeply to form diamond shapes.
2. Drizzle the olive oil and season with salt, pepper, chilli and fennel.
3. Wrap in foil and bake for 1 hour at 150C.
4. Allow to cool, then scoop out the soft cooked flesh.
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
100g cherry tomatoes
125g baked ricotta (I mixed mine with some chilli, fennel seeds, salt and pepper, and baked it along with the aubergine)
Fresh chilli, chopped, to taste
1. Warm a large frying-pan and add the olive oil and garlic, and then the caviar.
3. Cook for two minutes on a medium heat, then add the cherry tomatoes and cook for a further two minutes.
4. Season with salt and pepper and add the blanched pasta to the pan.
5. Add rocket and toss in the pan.
6. Tip onto a serving plate, top with the ricotta and fresh chilli. Grate a little Parmesan on top if you like.