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Pasta Alla Norma

Ayushi Gupta-Mehra | The Foodie Diaries
A (slightly) healthier rendition of the classic Sicilian dish Pasta alla Norma, featuring baked aubergine tossed together with a flavourful tomato sauce and pasta. Finish with a blizzard of grated ricotta salata cheese on top!
5 from 1 vote
Cuisine Italian
Servings 3

Ingredients
  

  • 1 large aubergine
  • 5 tomatoes
  • ½ onion, finely sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 – 2  tbsp tomato paste (optional, but recommended)
  • Handful of torn basil
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • ½ tsp red chilli flakes (can increase if you like your sauce spicy)
  • Crack of black pepper
  • Olive oil, as required
  • 250 – 300g of pasta (preferably penne, fusilli, rigatoni or any other tube-shaped pasta)
  • Grated salted ricotta (alternatively, you can use grated crumbled feta or grated parmesan)

Instructions
 

Prepare the aubergine:

  • Roughly chop the aubergine into 2cm chunks; put them in a colander placed over the sink and sprinkle generously with salt (sea salt is always preferable) and let it sit for at least 20 minutes (if you have time, 2 hours is recommended). This helps to draw out the moisture in the aubergine.
  • Give the aubergine pieces a good rinse (to remove the excess salt) and pat dry with paper towels.
  • Drizzle 1 -2 tbsp of olive oil and a crack of black pepper, tossing the pieces together to ensure that they are evenly coated, before roasting the aubergine in a preheated oven at 180C for about 25 minutes until golden-brown and tender.

Prepare the tomato sauce:

  • While the aubergine is roasting, prepare the tomato sauce. Blanche the tomatoes (add to a pot of boiling water and boil for about 1 – 2 minutes), peeling the skin off once they have cooled down after being removed from water. Chop the flesh roughly into chunks and set aside.
  • Heat about 2 – 3 tbsp of olive oil in a large skillet, sautéing the onions until translucent. Next add in the garlic, chilli flakes and oregano and sauté until fragrant (a couple of minutes).
  • Then add the chopped tomatoes, tomato paste and around ½ cup of water. Let it come to a boil, then season with salt and pepper (according to taste).
  • Let the sauce simmer on the stove (medium low heat) for around 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Stir in the baked aubergine chunks and torn basil and let the sauce simmer for a bit more (8 – 10 minutes) until thick and glossy.

Cook the pasta:

  • Simultaneously, while the sauce is simmering, bring a pot of salted water to boil. Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet, until al dente.
  • When draining the pasta, reserve some of the starchy pasta water to add to the sauce if required (it helps to loosen up the sauce).

To assemble:

  • Add the cooked pasta to the sauce, reducing the heat to low. Toss well until the pasta is evenly coated. Serve hot, with a generous sprinkling of grated cheese.