This is what we ate for dinner last night. A few days ago, while I was researching some pasta recipes, I stumbled across what they call, “Pasta alla Norma.” That sounded very Italian to me, so I looked into it and discovered that it’s a pasta dish that includes roasted eggplant and a few different herbs. Since I am always up for these types of ingredients, I made up a shopping list, whipped up some dinner and here I am. I must say, I am now a fan of Pasta alla Norma.
What I like most about this recipe is the herbs and the cheese. It calls for basil, parsley and mint as well as ricotta salata, which is a harder, more crumbly cheese and regular grated Parmesan. The eggplant adds some nice texture and flavor and it even makes the dish look authentically “Italian.” And I don’t use the word “authentic” – ever. I just thought it was appropriate here.
Overall, this is a flavorful plate of pasta. The salt, pepper and red pepper flakes make sure of that. There’s a lot going on and I think you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.
1 Large Eggplant, Cut into 1-Inch Cubes
Ground Black Pepper
1 28 Ounce Can Diced Tomatoes
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
1 Pound Rigatoni Pasta
2 Garlic Cloves, Minced
1/4 Teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
1 Cup (Packed) Fresh Basil Leaves
2 Tablespoons Mint Leaves, Chopped
3 Tablespoons Parsley, Chopped
1 Cup Ricotta Salata Cheese, Crumbled
1/3 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
I’d like to thank Leite’s Cuisine for this recipe. As I browse through David Leite’s website, I am finding tons of great recipes. I think I’ll be visiting again.
Roast the Eggplant
Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees. Make sure one of the racks is in the center position. After you cut up the eggplant into cubes, toss the cubes in a large bowl, along with about three tablespoons of olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. You can also add in 1/4 teaspoon of pepper to jazz things up. Spread the eggplant out on a large baking sheet and place the baking sheet in the oven for about 25 minutes or until the eggplant softens somewhat. Then, remove the tray from the oven and turn off the heat.
Cook the Pasta
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Then, add one tablespoon salt and the pasta to the pot. Let the pasta cook for about 11 minutes or until it’s al dente. Reserve one cup of pasta water. When finished, strain the pasta through a colander.
Make the Sauce
Warm a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add in four tablespoons of olive oil, the garlic, red pepper flakes and basil. Also add in 1/2 teaspoon salt and stir these ingredients until the basil begins to wilt. Probably around three minutes. Then, increase the temperature to medium and add in the tomatoes. Let the tomatoes simmer for about five minutes and then add in the roasted eggplant, stir, and simmer for another five minutes.
Add the pasta to the skillet with the sauce in it. Also add in the parsley, mint and both cheeses. Toss these ingredients together well and season with salt and pepper as you go, if necessary. Also, if you need more liquid in the dish, go ahead and add the reserved pasta water little by little. Since I used canned tomatoes with this recipe, that wasn’t necessary for me.
Plate, Serve & Enjoy
This was a great meal. It reminded me of those I used to enjoy at the big family style Italian restaurants I used to visit with friends. There used to be one in Yorktown, New York as well as Oneonta, New York. Great places and the servings were enormous. There’s nothing like a big skillet showing up at the table to dig into .
Anyway, if you give this recipe a try, please let me know your thoughts in the comment section. Thanks for reading!