Pasta Alla Norma
- 3 small eggplants (sliced into 1/3” half-moons)
- 1, ½ teaspoon kosher salt (divided)
- ¼ cup olive oil plus 2 tablespoons (divided)
- 3 garlic cloves (peeled and smashed)
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 28-oz can chopped tomatoes or
- 2.2lb jar whole tomatoes
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- 1lb short tube pasta
- 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- ½ cup torn or crushed basil leaves
- 1 cup coarsely grated ricotta salata
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
- Place the eggplant in a colander and season with 1 teaspoon salt. Allow the eggplant to sit for 15 minutes. Spread the eggplant on a clean kitchen towel and ring out any excess moisture. Spread the dry eggplant on a rimmed baking sheet. Toss with 1/4 cup olive oil and roast, stirring halfway through, until the eggplant is tender and browning in spots, about 20 to 30 minutes. Set aside.
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat. To the hot pan add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the red pepper flakes followed by the tomatoes, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and the oregano. Stir to combine. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring often, until slightly reduced, about 15 minutes.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season the boiling water generously with salt and add the pasta. Cook the pasta for 1 minute less than package directions about 11 minutes. Using a pasta spider or strainer, scoop the pasta directly from the water into the tomato sauce. Add 1/2 cup of pasta water to the pan. Sprinkle the parmesan cheese directly on the bare pasta. Toss well to coat. Simmer the pasta in the sauce over medium heat until al dente adding another 1/4 cup of pasta water if needed. This will take another 2 to 3 minutes. Toss in the roasted eggplant and the basil. Serve sprinkled with grated ricotta salata and a drizzle of olive oil if desired.
- *Cook’s Note: If using whole tomatoes, break them up by hand in a bowl before cooking, or add them straight to the pan and use scissors to cut them up. Add 1/4 teaspoon extra salt to the recipe, if using, and taste to adjust seasoning if necessary.