PASTA ALLA NORMA
Served with ricotta salata, this Sicilian dish features fried eggplant and pasta in a tomato sauce (a drier, salted version of ricotta).
When our garden is overflowing with summer eggplant and tomatoes, this is one of my favorite dishes to make!
FOOD FROM THE GROCERY
Our raised beds are overflowing with plump tomatoes, fresh herbs, and hot chilies, so we’re continuing the theme of creating recipes using the fresh ingredients we’ve grown in our backyard.
This year, we’ve decided to grow Japanese eggplant, which we prefer to utilize in all of our eggplant-based dishes. They have softer skins, which makes them easier to peel.
We’re getting a few eggplants and tomatoes every day, and they’re developing quickly. When you have a dish like this at your disposal, it’s easy to keep up with the feast.
ROASTING, NOT FRYING, IS THE WAY TO GO
Instead of frying the eggplant, which can use a lot of oil, I roast it in this recipe instead. In addition, I roast the tomatoes since I believe that doing so brings out more of their natural sweetness than doing it in a pan.
Baked until soft and golden brown, the eggplant and tomatoes are finished in the same oven.
The garden’s parsley and basil, as well as our anaheim chilies (which have also been blooming like crazy), give this dish a fresh yet nuanced flavor.
Anaheim chilies can be substituted with 1/4 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes, or they can be omitted entirely.
This is a go-to meal for lazy days in the summer. You don’t need to go to a grocery store or a farm stand to eat delicious food!
- 2 pounds of tomatoes
- 12 ounces of spaghetti
- 1 1/2 pounds of Chinese or Japanese eggplant
- 1 de-seeded and julienned red anaheim chili
- 5 cloves of thinly sliced garlic
- 1/2 cup of chopped parsley and/or basil
- 1/2 cup of ricotta salata
- 1/4 cup of tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
- olive oil
- salt and pepper (to taste)
- Set the oven to 400 °F.
- Tomatoes should be cut into 1-inch chunks. Leave grape or cherry tomatoes whole if using them. Olive oil should be drizzled and salt and pepper should be sprinkled.
- Cut the eggplant into cubes measuring 1 inch. On a baking sheet, distribute the cubed eggplant and generously sprinkle with olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- The tomatoes and eggplants should be roasted in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the tomatoes are wrinkled and juicy and the eggplant is softened and browned. To ensure consistent browning, turn the pans around halfway through roasting (so the top pan is on the bottom and vice versa) and mix the tomatoes and eggplant.
- In the meantime, heat a sizable pot of salted water to a boil. Shorten the spaghetti’s cooking time by one to two minutes.
- While the pasta cooks, add the garlic and chilies to 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. 2 to 3 minutes of cooking. For a further two to three minutes, add the tomato paste.
- Add about 2/3 cup of the pasta cooking water, then combine the oregano with the roasted tomatoes and eggplant. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Add the pasta and about 1/2 cup of the pasta water to the mixture. Add water, a 1/4 cup at a time, while tossing the pasta in the mixture over medium-low heat for an additional 1-2 minutes or until the sauce is smooth and coats the pasta.
- Add the basil and/or parsley. If you have ricotta salata, pecorino or parmesan, use those instead!