Summer is not quite here, but I got some lovely tomatoes and eggplant at the market. There was also some fresh mozzarella cheese in the fridge, and a friend posted a lovely photo of her caprese salad. Caprese salad is simply fresh tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and basil leaves. It’s a great summer side dish that requires no cooking at all. Inspiration struck, and I thought I’d put them together to make pasta alla norma (pasta with eggplant).
Pasta alla norma is 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. And, since we’re only making one serving (and using tomato sauce instead of the original whole tomatoes, the cooking time is cut from nearly an hour to about 25 minutes. If you don’t have tomato sauce, cut some tomato paste with water and add garlic powder, onion powder, dried basil, and dried oregano to get the same effect.
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 think the term they used was “abundant” 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.
If you’re really concerned about the oil, you can drizzle the eggplant with it, and then roast it at 400 degrees for about 15 to 20 minutes.
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.
More Eggplant Recipes