Pasta Alla Norma
Pasta Alla Norma is a simple dish with big Italian flavor.
Pasta Alla Norma is one of the most well-known Sicilian dishes for good reason. It’s hearty and flavorful, yet not overwhelmingly heavy like some pasta dishes. The key ingredients are eggplant, tomatoes, basil, and ricotta salata cheese. Doesn’t that sound like a delicious combination?
This recipe is great for beginner cooks. It is easy to make, yet the finished product will leave you feeling like a famous Italian chef. Move over, Giada!
First things first, get a large pot of salted water boiling to cook your pasta in. You can use any pasta you’d like, but we prefer rigatoni, ziti, or penne for this recipe. Once your pasta is cooked, be sure to reserve about a cup of pasta water. You may need it at the end.
While you’re waiting for your water to boil, begin sautéing the onions and garlic in olive oil in a large sauté pan, stirring occasionally so your garlic does not burn. After 1-2 minutes, add the eggplant and continue cooking for an additional 15 minutes, or until the eggplant begins to cook down. Next comes plenty of cherry tomatoes. Give them a few minutes to cook before adding your spices, basil, tomato paste, and white wine vinegar. Lastly, add the pasta and let everything mingle together over heat for a few final minutes. The tomatoes should be bursting, the onions translucent, and the garlic and spices fragrant. If the dish seems too try, this is where the pasta water you reserved earlier comes in handy. Add some of it into the pan until the sauce is your desired consistency. It should be thin, but not soupy.
Now it’s time to plate, garnish with ricotta salata cheese and basil leaves, and enjoy the fruits of your labor.
How To Peel An Eggplant
This recipe calls for peeled and cubed eggplant. Peeling an eggplant is simple. You can use a vegetable peeler, but you’ll likely find a sharp knife to be the best tool for the job.
- Wash and dry the eggplant.
- Using a knife, cut off both ends of the eggplant.
- Stand the eggplant up on its wider end and run your knife between the skin and flesh to remove the skin in strips.
Learn how to select and store eggplants here.
- 1 lb pasta suggestions: rigatoni, penne, ziti
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 3 cloves garlic thinly sliced
- 1/2 red onion thinly sliced
- 2 eggplants peeled and cubed
- 2 pints cherry tomatoes
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 tsp dry oregeno
- 1 cup pasta water
- 5-6 fresh basil leaves torn, plus more to garnish
- Ricotta salata cheese grated
- Bring a large pot of water to a roaring boil. Add salt. Cook pasta al dente, according to instructions on package. Drain.
- In a large saute pan, heat olive oil, onions, and garlic. Cook for 1-2 minutes, or until fragrant. Stir frequently to prevent garlic from burning.
- Add eggplant and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the tomatoes to the saute pan and stir. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add tomato paste, basil, oregano, red pepper flakes, and vinegar to saute pan, stirring occasionally. Cook for 1 minute.
- Add the drained pasta to the saute pan and mix well. Add some of the reserved pasta water if the dish appears dry. You may not need the entire cup. Stir.
- Plate pasta and garnish with fresh basil and cheese. Serve hot.
Serve Pasta Alla Norma with a side salad, crusty bread, and an Italian red wine for the adults. Enjoy!