- olive oil
- 1 pound eggplant, mostly peeled and diced
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed but not peeled
- 1 pound cherry tomatoes, halved
- salt, to taste
- fresh basil
- 10 ounces paccheri or rigatoni
- freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 3 ounces ricotta salata
My uncle Tony made this fresh take of pasta alla norma when we were in Italy, and it changed my life. The ricotta salata is a new addition for me, and now there's no going back: The saltiness married with the sweet cherry tomatoes is a match made in food heaven!
Technique tip: If the eggplant is too big, remove most of the center with the seeds, or else your sauce will be bitter.
Swap option: Instead of cooking the eggplant in batches, you can roast them in a 425 F oven for 20 minutes.
Fill a large pot with water and add a generous pinch of salt and bring to a boil.2.
In a medium skillet with high sides (big enough to hold the sauce) add a couple tablespoons of oil, preheat over medium heat (between medium and medium-high), add half the eggplant, cook until develops color stirring often, remove to a paper towel-lined plate and continue with more oil and the rest of the eggplant.3.
Add a few more tablespoons of oil to the skillet, add the garlic, sauté for a minute, add the tomatoes, salt and some basil, reduce the heat to medium and simmer for about 20 minutes.4.
About 8 minutes before your sauce is ready, add the pasta to the salted boiling water.5.
Meanwhile at this point, add the cooked eggplant in the sauce and allow it to cook together for the time the pasta takes to cook.6.
Once the pasta is cook until al dente, reserve about 1/2 cup of the cooking water then drain the pasta and put it back in the hot pot.7.
Place the pot with the pasta on the stove over medium heat, add the eggplant sauce, 1/4 cup of the starchy water, cook all together for a minute or so, then stir in the Parm, add to a serving platter, shave over some ricotta salata and enjoy!