Pasta alla Norma is a dish from the city of Catania in Sicily. The recipe calls for ricotta salata (an aged and more firm version of ricotta), but you can substitute with normal ricotto and parmigiano reggiano or aged pecorino. Instead of sautéing the eggplant in oil, I prefer to roast the eggplant in the oven. This dish is healthy and easy to make.
For 2 servings
150-200 grams penne rigate (also known as rigatoni) or other dry pasta
500 grams eggplant
400 grams peeled tomatoes (from a can or fresh when they are in season)
60 grams ricotta salata or 30 grams normal ricotta and 30 grams parmigiano reggiano or pecorino romano
extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Wash and dry the eggplant. Cut into cubes.
Put eggplant cubes into a colander. Sprinkle with salt.
Put a plate on top of the eggplant and something heavy on top of the plate. Let stand for an hour to draw out the juices and thus make the eggplant easier to cook.
Meanwhile, make the tomato sauce. Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a frying pan. Add peeled garlic and sauté garlic until golden. This is easier if you tilt the pan as shown.
Process tomatoes in a food processor until smooth. Remove garlic from the pan. Add tomatoes. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Let simmer over low heat until thick.
Preheat the oven to 225C/435F.
Dry the eggplant with paper towels. There is no need to rinse them first if you didn’t overdo it with the salt.
Toss the eggplant with olive oil so they are lightly coated. Put them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Roast in the oven until golden, around 30 minutes.
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add salt and the pasta. Cook al dente according to instructions on the package.
Add the eggplant to the tomato sauce. Drain the pasta and add to the tomato sauce. Add most of the basil. If using ricotta salata, grate and add 3/4. If using normal ricotta and parmigiano or pecorino, add all of the normal ricotta and half of the grated parmigiano or pecorino.
Toss to mix.
Serve with remaining basil on top and remaining grated cheese.
Pairs well with a light Italian red, or even better with a full-bodied dry Italian rosé.