Summer is now in full force, and I got some lovely tomatoes and eggplant from the Greenmarket, as well as fresh pasta and fresh mozzarella cheese from the Italian market. Inspiration struck, and I thought I’d put them together to make pasta alla norma (pasta with eggplant) and add a caprese salad.
Caprese salad is simply fresh tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, olive oil, and basil leaves. It’s an easy summer side dish that requires no cooking at all.
Pasta alla norma is slightly spicy pasta 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, use canned crushed tomatoes and add garlic powder, onion powder, dried basil, and dried oregano to get the same effect.
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. Skip the sat if you get salted mozzarella (unless you prefer salty food).
More Eggplant Recipes