• The Pasta Book by Gennaro Contaldo

Jamie Oliver’s Food Tube presents

The Pasta Book


Pasta is an essential part of the Italian diet and most traditional families serve it at least once a day. 

From its humble origins of mammas and nonnas at home mixing flour and water, it’s become a worldwide industry with over 600 shapes to choose from. 

The beauty of pasta is that it’s quick, simple and versatile – from easy tomato sauces to toss through spaghetti, to slow-cooked ragus and warming baked dishes. 

‘You can make pasta as rich or as light as you like, depending on season and your budget’


I hope you love these fantastic recipes, which I have split into seasons, dedicated to Italy’s favourite food and, of course, mine too.

Penne con melanzane e peperoncini

Pepper & Aubergine Penne

We would often have a dish such as this one during the summer when peppers and aubergines were in abundance and sweet-smelling basil was at its best.  It used to take a while to prepare as the aubergines were sliced and left in salt for a couple of hours for all the excess moisture to escape.

Nowadays, we can not only omit this stage, but enjoy both vegetables all year round, although I must admit there is nothing nicer than seasonal locally grown produce. When I’m in Italy during the summer, this is one of the dishes I enjoy.

The capers add fantastic flavour to this typically southern Italian pasta dish – they smell just like the sea.  I love them!


  • Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat, add aubergine cubes and stir fry for about 8 minutes until soft. Remove and drain on kitchen paper.
  • Return the frying pan to a medium heat with 2 tablespoons of oil, add peppers, chilli and garlic and sweat for 3 minutes. Add olives, capers, a splash of water and continue to cook for a further 4 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, cook the penne in a large pot of boiling salted water until “al dente.”
  • Add cherry tomatoes and most of the basil leaves to the sauce, cover and cook for a couple of minutes until the tomatoes have softened.
  • Add the aubergines, season with salt & pepper, reduce to a lovely sauce, adding a splash of the pasta water to loosen if necessary.
  • Reserving some of the cooking water, drain the penne and add to the sauce. Toss well over the heat until lovely and glossy, adding a splash of the cooking water to loosen if necessary.
  • Serve immediately with a sprinkling of grated parmesan and scatter with the remaining basil leaves.
Penne with Peppers & Aubergines


2  servings

4 x tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 x small aubergine, trimmed and chopped into 1 cm cubes
½ red pepper & 1/2 yellow pepper, both deseeded and sliced lengthways into strips
½ red chilli, finely chopped
4 x cloves garlic, peeled & crushed
6 x black olives
4 x tablespoon baby capers
200 gr penne
salt & pepper
8 x ripe cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters
½ bunch fresh basil leaves

grated parmesan cheese, for serving