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Fast & Easy Dinner: Pasta Alla Norma

Fast & Easy Dinner: Pasta Alla Norma


Fresh eggplant is the star in this delicious vegetarian pasta. The purple vegetable is pan-fried and seasoned with dried oregano. The sauteed eggplant acts as the base of the thick, tomato-y pasta sauce. A handful of aromatic basil and a liberal dusting of Italian cheese finishes off the pasta. This scrumptious dish is like eating a bowl of summer. To learn the technique, read more.

Pasta Alla Norma

Pasta Alla Norma

Pasta Alla Norma

Ingredients

2 large, firm eggplants
extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
optional: 1 dried red chili, crumbled
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
a large bunch of fresh basil, stems finely chopped, leaves reserved
1 teaspoon good herb or white wine vinegar
2 14-ounce cans of good-quality chopped plum tomatoes, or 2 cups fresh chopped tomatoes
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound dried spaghetti
6 ounces salted ricotta, pecorino, or Parmesan cheese, grated

Directions

  1. Cut the eggplant into quarters lengthwise. If they've got seedy, fluffy centers, remove them and chuck them away. Then cut the eggplants across the length, into finger-sized pieces.
  2. Get a large nonstick pan nice and hot and add a little oil. Fry the eggplants in two batches, adding a little extra oil if you need to.
  3. Give the eggplants a toss so the oil coats every single piece and then sprinkle with dried oregano. Using a pair of tongs, turn the pieces of eggplant until golden on all sides. Remove to a plate and do the same with the second batch.
  4. When the eggplants are all cooked, add the first batch back to the pan—if using add the dried red chili.
  5. Turn the heat down to medium and add a little oil, the garlic, and the basil stems. Stir so everything gets evenly cooked, then add a swig of herb vinegar and the cans of tomatoes
  6. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, then taste and correct the seasoning. Tear up half the basil leaves, add to the sauce, and toss around.
  7. Meanwhile get the spaghetti into a pan of salted boiling water and cook according to the package instructions. When it's al dente, drain in a colander, reserving a little of the cooking water, and put it back into the pan.
  8. Add the Norma sauce and a little of the reserved cooking water and toss together back on the heat. Taste, and adjust the seasoning, then divide between your plates by twizzling the pasta into a ladle for each portion. Any sauce left in the pan can be spooned over the top. Sprinkle with the remaining basil, grated cheese, and oil.

Serves 4.

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