Justine Schofield’s Eggplant Puttanesca

Serves 4

100ml olive oil
1 eggplant, peeled and
cut into 1cm dice
salt flakes
4 anchovy fillets,
finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
¼ teaspoon chilli flakes,
or to taste
1 x 400g can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed
60g pitted black olives, halved
1 tablespoon baby capers in brine, drained
500g rigatoni
(or any pasta shape of your choice)
1 small handful of finely grated parmesan or pecorino,
plus extra to serve
freshly ground black pepper


Heat 80ml of oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the eggplant and toss in the oil, then season with a small pinch of salt and fry for 3–4 minutes until softened and lightly coloured. Add the remaining oil, the anchovy, garlic and chilli and cook for a further 30 seconds until fragrant. Tip in the tomatoes and stir to coat the eggplant, then add the olives and capers. Simmer for 3–4 minutes until the sauce is thick and rich.

Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Using tongs, shake the excess water off the pasta and drop directly into the sauce. Sprinkle over the cheese and toss to completely coat the pasta in the sauce. Serve with a grind of pepper and a sprinkle of extra cheese.

Justine says…

Home to me is a bowl of pasta cooked the way I like it. I’m on the road pretty much every day for Everyday Gourmet and we do extra shows for Outback Gourmet, so I just want to come home and have a bowl of pasta the way I cook it. Something that is super familiar, something basic.

Pasta is comfort food. I’m always very happy to sit in front of the TV on a Saturday night and eat pasta. For me it’s convenient and you can change the sauce each time. It’s my once-a-week treat, my go-to dish. And I change it around depending on what I have in my pantry or fridge.

When I come back from travelling, I love to go to Mum’s house. She’s a fantastic cook. When you open the front door there’s automatically a familiarity, whether she’s cooking pot-au-feu or veal blanquette. It’s the smell of dinner bubbling away on the stovetop that makes me quite nostalgic.

When I cook those types of dishes it reminds me of Mum because it evokes memories and familiarity. But whenever I try to make them, it’s never like Mum’s. You can watch that recipe being made 100 times but still…

We are a family of passionate cooks. Mum cooks what my grandmother cooked, and I cook what my grandmother cooked. My grandmother ran a restaurant and so did my mum.

My grandfather had a hotel restaurant in Paris where there were rooms upstairs and a restaurant downstairs. It was open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Mum still has the menus. How they ate was just outrageous! They’d have nine or 10 courses, go for a walk, come back and then eat another nine or 10 courses! It was ridiculous. The dishes would have been so rich, lobster and foie gras. That’s how they would do it, just eat all day to celebrate.

» The Weeknight Cookbook by Justine Schofield is out now. Outback Gourmet can be viewed on SBS on Demand.

» This article was first published in The Big Issue Ed#589.