Pasta alla Norma, an Italian classic. Beautifully seared eggplant meets a rich sweet tomato sauce playing in the folds of a wonderful Pennoni pasta! Furthermore, a grating of ricotta salata, totally delectable and exquisite!
- 1 medium eggplant
- 1–2 cloves garlic
- Pinch of dried chili flakes (peperoncino)
- 1/2 large can San Marzano D.O.P. tomatoes (about 350–400 g)
- 3 Tbsp extra virgin cold pressed olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 250 g good quality Italian “short” pasta (rigatoni, maccheroni, penne, pennoni)
- 3–4 leaves of fresh basil, also for garnish
- ricotta salata, grated or crumbled
- In a sauté pan drizzle olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Add cloves of garlic and crushed chilies. Saute for 1 minute.
- Squeeze tomatoes in the pan and pour in the juice. You can puree them in a food processor if you want. I also use a potato masher to finish breaking them up.
- Break up basil leaves, add salt and pepper to taste and put into the pan, partially cover, and let simmer till thickened about 20 minutes.
- While the sauce is simmering, peel and cut the eggplant into 1/2 cm thick rounds, then those rounds in half creating two half circles. Continue this until the eggplant is all cut up.
- Heat some more olive oil in another sauté pan and sauté eggplant, sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook till golden and a slight char on the edges. Add to the sauce, setting aside about a third for garnishing.
- Bring a pot of salted water to boil, add pasta, and cook according to the product suggested time (remember you can taste the pasta to make sure it’s al dente).
- Take the pasta and toss in tomato sauce and plate.
- Put a bit of the seared eggplant you set aside on top and finish with some grated ricotta salata.
- If you want you can also drizzle a little olive oil on top and add some basil leaves for decoration.
Now it’s ready to serve and eat.
When frying the eggplant slices just put enough eggplant in the pant to fill the bottom. Don’t pile them all in you won’t get that nice caramelization and color.
You could grill the eggplant slices or bake them in the oven. It won’t be traditional, but healthier.
If you want you can puree the tomatoes in a food processor until somewhat smooth.