This is a chunky sauce that we've been making for years at the store.
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 eggplant (about 3/4 pound)
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
1 medium green bell pepper
1 medium red bell pepper
1 medium yellow bell pepper
4 fresh plum tomatoes, chopped
1/4 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon red-wine vinegar
1 cup tomato puree
1/4 cup firmly packed, chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup firmly packed, chopped fresh marjoram
1. Place 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large sauté pan over moderate heat. Cut the eggplant into 1/2-inch cubes, and add to the hot oil with the chopped onion. Cook until eggplant softens, about 10 minutes. Remove and reserve.
2. Stem and seed the bell peppers. Cut each one in half. Cut half of each pepper into medium dice and the other half into julienne strips. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan in which the eggplant cooked, set it over moderately high heat, and sauté the peppers for 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes. Add the eggplant-onion mixture, the two vinegars, and the tomato purée. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to moderate, and simmer for 5 minutes.
3. Add the basil and marjoram. Remove from heat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Let rest for 5 minutes, toss with hot pasta and serve.
This is a chunky sauce that we've been making for years at the store. It features, most prominently, the bright taste of bell peppers. But what we find especially interesting is the big herbal flavor, perfectly complementary to the pepper flavor, that is furnished by the last-minute addition of fresh basil and marjoram. You could substitute other fresh herbs if necessary. The sauce is delicious with either long, thick strands of pasta, like perciatelli, or short, chunky pasta, like orecchiette. Makes enough sauce for 2 pounds dried pasta