gathering supper from the hands that grew it.
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 onion, minced
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 ounces pancetta (or we substitute nitrate-free bacon)
1 pound ripe plum tomatoes, peeled and diced (we substitute two pints sungold tomatoes, halved but not peeled)
1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
1/4 pound Japanese or Italian eggplant, unpeeled in a neat 1/4 inch dice.
1/2 red bell pepper, seeds and ribs removed, in neat 1/4 inch dice
1/4 pound zucchini, in neat 1/4 inch dice
salt to taste
1 pound dried fusilli
2/3 cup freshly grated romano cheese
Heat olive oil in a 12 inch skillet over moderately low heat. Add onion and arlic and saute until onion is soft, 8-10 minutes. Add pancetta and saute until it renders some of its fat, about 3 minutes, then add tomatoes and hot pepper flakes. Raise heat to moderately high and cook, stirring often, until tomatoes collapse and begin to form a sauce, about 10 minutes. Add eggplant, bell pepper, and zucchini. Season with salt. Saute 3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup water, cover, readuce heat to maintain a bare simmer and cook until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Check occasionally and add more water if needed to achieve a saucelike consistency. Uncover, taste, and adjust seasoning.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add pasta and cook until al dente. Drain. Transfer to a warm bowl. Add sauce and cheese and toss well. Serve immediately.
Makes 4-6 servings. If you have a big enough pot, this recipe doubles or triples well.