Pasta alla Norma

  • 3/4 pound pasta (fettuccine, margherite or millerighe)
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, fresh
  • 6-8 tomatoes, peeled (a minute in boiling water loosens the skins)
  • Sweet basil, torn into big bits
  • 4-6 eggplant
  • Extra virgin olive oil (high-quality)      
  • Salt      
  • Ricotta salata (or substitute with a sharp cheese like Pecorino Romano)
Peel eggplant in stripes, slice thinly, and sauté in some olive oil. You don’t need to deep fry despite what most cookbooks tell you. Just add enough olive oil to a skillet so that the eggplant doesn’t stick. It should cook nice and brown and then release the oil it absorbed in the beginning. Turn them halfway through cooking, and drain them on paper towels once done. They’ll be nice and crispy brown when they’re ready.

Finely chop the garlic and sauté it in a few tablespoons of olive oil. Before it starts to really cook, add the tomatoes, crushing them with your hands right into the skillet. Swirl about a bit until some of the tomato liquid cooks down.

Boil the pasta in a good amount of salted water. When the pasta is cooked al dente, drain it and add it to the pan with the tomatoes and the sweet basil.

Sauté everything together for a few minutes to allow the pasta to absorb the flavors of the sauce. Transfer pasta to a serving bowl. Grate cheese on top of the pasta. Place the eggplant on top of the cheese, and grate more cheese on top of the eggplant.

Yield: 4 servings