Pasta with Eggplant

This classic dish is traditionally known as Pasta alla Norma, which was named after the Bellini opera "Norma." A pasta named after an opera? There's truly nothing gayer, and we LOVE IT!


Norma is traditionally made by frying eggplant in olive oil and topping it with Ricotta Salata, a milky cheese with just a hint of salt. But of course, I always have to be different, so I roast my eggplant until it's nice and brown, then top it with Pecorino Romano. This recipe was inspired by a conversation I had with my friend Alexa whose mom makes a similar dish, but of course never wrote it down. That's why I'm here, though—to translate the unwritten recipes of every mom so we can attempt their culinary genius!

WHAT YOU'LL NEED:


3 large purple eggplant

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

Red pepper flakes

1 head garlic, peeled and crushed

1 white onion, chopped

28 oz. can crushed or chopped tomatoes

1 lb. rigatoni

Fresh basil, chopped

Grated parmesan cheese


WHAT YOU'LL DO:


Preheat oven to 400º.


Chop 3 unpeeled eggplant, mix with olive oil, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes until evenly coated. Spread on a sheet tray and roast in preheated oven, tossing every so often, until golden brown (about 45 minutes). This step can be done ahead (same day) and eggplant can be set aside until dinner.


Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a pan. Add chopped onion, crushed garlic, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Simmer until crispy.


Boil rigatoni in a pot of salty water.


Add can of chopped or crushed tomatoes to onions, stir, then add roasted eggplant fresh basil. Stir to combine and warm up eggplant for a few minutes.


Drain pasta and serve with sauce spooned over, then sprinkle with fresh more basil and grated parmesan or pecorino.


Make it step-by-step with me below!

LET'S DO THIS ONE STEP AT A TIME:

One thing I love about this recipe is you can bake your eggplant in advance and then do the rest right before dinner! That's what I did today.

1. Chop your eggplants into cubes.

2. Add eggplant to a large bowl.

3. Mix with olive oil, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes until evenly coated.

4. Spread on a sheet tray and roast in preheated 400º oven, tossing every so often, until golden brown (about 45 minutes).

5. Perfection. This step can be done ahead (same day) and eggplant can be set aside until dinner.

6. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a pan. Add chopped onion, crushed garlic, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Simmer until crispy.

7. This is what crispy looks like.

8. Boil rigatoni in a pot of salty water.

9. Add can of chopped or crushed tomatoes to onions, stir, then add roasted eggplant and fresh basil. Stir to combine and warm up eggplant for a few minutes.

10. Drain pasta and serve with sauce spooned over, then sprinkle with fresh more basil.

11. Plate and serve with grated parmesan or pecorino.


Enjoy!