While we can’t just hop a flight to Italy, we can channel our inner nonna with a heaping plate of pasta. Behold pasta alla Norma, the next best thing to a sunny Italian getaway.
The Sicilian dish, which hails from from the city of Catania, traditionally stars eggplant, tomatoes, basil and ricotta salata (a type of pressed and aged ricotta cheese). We subbed in pecorino, which is more widely available, but either will taste delicious. The whole thing is vegetarian, totally satisfying and extremely simple to make. Best of all, four servings will cost you less than $10. That calls for a toast, don’t you think?
Pasta alla Norma with Eggplant, Basil & Pecorino
Servings: 4 servings
Time: Start to Finish: 1 hour
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large eggplant, sliced into 1-inch strips
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 sweet onion, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
One 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
¾ teaspoon dried oregano
1 pound bite-size dry pasta, like rigatoni or macaroni
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
½ cup grated pecorino or ricotta salata cheese
1. In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the eggplant in batches and cook on all sides until golden brown. Remove the eggplant from the pan and set aside on a large plate. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
2. To the same pan, add the onion and sauté until tender, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute more.
3. Stir in the tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Add the red pepper flakes and oregano, and season with salt and pepper. Simmer until the flavor of the sauce develops and concentrates slightly, 15 to 20 minutes.
4. While the sauce simmers, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook according to the instructions on the package. Drain well.
5. Add the pasta and eggplant to the sauce; toss to coat. Add the parsley, basil and pecorino or ricotta salata, and toss well to combine.