Summer is gone, but I still had a few tomatoes and eggplants left from the farmer’s market. There was also some fresh mozzarella cheese in the fridge, and a friend posted a lovely photo of her caprese salad. Inspiration struck, and I thought I’d put them together to make pasta alla norma (pasta with eggplant).
It’s a slightly spicy pasta dish with fresh eggplant, and tomato sauce, topped with manchego cheese. This is a great meal when you’re in a hurry, as it’s pretty easy to throw together.
The recipe is typically made with long pasta, but I only had short, curly pasta so I used that instead.
The original recipe (from the New York Times) called for lots and lots of olive oil. I love olive oil, but so does eggplant. It just slurps it up! However, I found that by cooking the eggplant on a low flame, it used a lot less olive than it would otherwise.
Pasta alla norma (with eggplant and red pepper flakes)
2-3 slices of eggplant, cut into thin strips (like fries)
2-3 T olive oil
1 clove garlic, sliced
generous pinch dried pepper flakes
1 1/2 tsp tomato sauce
1/4 cup pasta
manchego cheese or other hard Italian cheese (grated) for topping
Fill a 2 quart saucepan about halfway with water, heat on high, and bring it to a boil.
Heat the olive oil in a frying pan on low heat. Add the eggplant and cook, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.
While the eggplant is cooking, add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes.
Remove the eggplant from the pan.
Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, oregano, and tomato sauce to the frying pan.
When the garlic softens, add the eggplant back into the pan.
Drain the cooked pasta and add it to the eggplant mixture.
Stir to combine the pasta and the eggplant.
Pour the finished dish into a bowl and top with grated cheese.
If you don't have Manchego cheese, you can use Romano instead.
This is so simple, it’s hardly a recipe at all. Just layer slices of fresh tomato, fresh unsalted mozzarella, and fresh basil leaves. Top with a generous drizzle of olive oil and season with salt and pepper.