This is simply the BEST pasta dish I have had in a long time! It is better known as Pasta alla Norma.
The best part for me, was the eggplant. It really highlighted it well and boy oh boy did it taste amazing! And eggplant is a really neglected veg so this is a nice way to bring it back to your meal rotation.
Essentially, this tastes like a ratatouille pasta – who wouldn’t like that??!
This is a great, time saving dish to be enjoyed time and time again. It also made for some awesome lunches as well! It’s a great vegetarian dish, which is nice when you are strapped for cash or if you just don’t feel like eating meat for a meal because it’s satiating and really flavorful. Easily, the best part is the fresh pasta sauce that it is made with.
Hands down a winner at our house!
Mei and Emily even really enjoyed the cubes of eggplant they found hiding in their pasta! Be sure to pick a pasta shape that will really carry the sauce well, as you don’t want to loose even one drop of it to the plate or pan!
- one eggplant
- 7-9 plum tomatoes, chopped
- 3-4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- lots of fresh basil, chopped (roughly two bunches)
- extra virgin olive oil
- 1 lb dried pasta
- crumbled feta cheese
About a half-hour before you plan to start cooking, slice the top and bottom off the eggplant and slice it into three thick slabs. Lay all the slabs down on a cutting board and sprinkle each piece with kosher salt and let sit for 15-20 minutes. The salt will bring the “sludge” that makes eggplant taste slimy, to the surface and leave “beads” of liquid on top of the eggplant that can be wiped away with a paper towel. Also peel the eggplant if you don’t care for the peel, although it will cook down to be very tender if you leave it intact. Once you are done “sweating” the eggplant, dice it as desired.
Heat several tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a non-stick skillet. When it’s hot, add a portion of the cubed eggplant, not too much, you don’t want it to steam, but brown it nicely. Do this in batches until the eggplant is browned, salting little by little as you go.
While you are browning the eggplant, you can chop the tomatoes and place the sliced garlic in cold olive oil in a separate pan while you are doing this.
Set the cooked eggplant aside.
While cooking the eggplant, start the sauce. Heat the garlic and olive oil and add the red pepper flakes. When the garlic just starts to brown, add all the tomatoes, adding a big pinch of salt and small handfuls of basil (about half the basil you have) and bring the mixture to a boil, cover and simmer for about ten minutes while you finish browning the eggplant.
Bring a pot of water to a boil for the pasta.
Take the lid off the sauce and let it thicken. Taste for salt and when it’s a consistency you like, add the eggplant and stir. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook it until it’s just done.
Let the eggplant cook with the tomatoes on a low simmer while the pasta is cooking.
When the pasta is al dente, add to the sauce. Add the rest of the shredded basil, stir it all up, taste for salt and add a generous handful of feta cheese, stirring until most of the cheese is melted into the sauce. Top with more feta and basil ribbons and enjoy piping hot!