Television personality, author, and, yes, partner to NBA star Stephen Curry, Ayesha Curry knows her way around a kitchen. In her debut cookbook — one of the biggest to hit bookshelves this year — the Food Network host outlines life as a busy working mom, and shares her tricks for feeding a family. The Seasoned Life: Food, Family, Faith, and the Joy of Eating Well, out now, is already a national bestseller. Her new show, Ayesha’s Homemade, debuts this month. Here’s a recipe from the book to keep around for cool nights — or before a big game. It may look like pasta bolognese, but it’s far less complicated and surprisingly meat-free.
Game Day Pasta
Serves 4 to 6
We’re big on ritual in the Curry family. This pasta has become our official pregame fuel, for a good reason: Stephen needs to load up on carbs before doing all that running on the court. And since consistency is key when it comes to performing well, maybe my pasta has something to do with it. I always start with the same base—eggplant—and then sneak as many vegetables as I can into the pot. While pregame meals mean no cheese for Stephen (too much dairy is not good on the stomach), you can feel free to add a sprinkling of Parmesan on top if you’d like. I also often make the sauce to spoon over fish.
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup finely diced yellow onion
Freshly ground black pepper
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 globe eggplant, cut into cubes (about 6 cups)
1 1/2 cups dry red wine
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1 (13.5-ounce) can whole San Marzano tomatoes, crushed with a spoon or your hands, including liquid
Pinch of dried thyme
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
2 packed cups spinach leaves
Handful of fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 pound spaghetti or penne
1 or 2 lemon wedges
Heat the oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion, season with salt and pepper, and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.
Add the eggplant and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the eggplant begins to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the wine and bay leaves, increase the heat to medium-high, and cook until the wine has reduced by half, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 30 seconds. Pour in the tomatoes and season with the thyme, brown sugar, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Cook, simmering gently over medium-low heat, until the tomatoes have thickened enough to lightly coat the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes. Be sure to crush the tomatoes with a wooden spoon if any large chunks remain. Fish out the bay leaves.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
Add the pasta and cook according to the package directions.
Drain the pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Return the pasta to the pot. Pour in the sauce, spinach, and basil, and mix with tongs to coat evenly. Squeeze lemon juice over the top and taste, seasoning with more salt if desired. If the pasta seems dry, drizzle in a splash of the reserved pasta cooking water.
To serve, mound the pasta on plates.
Excerpted from The Seasoned Life, Copyright © 2016 by Ayesha Curry. Used with permission of Little, Brown and Company, New York. All rights reserved.
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