I apologize in advance to those who expressed their dislike of eggplant/aubergine when I stuffed them a few weeks ago…because we’re going at the melanzane again today.
For this week’s What’s Cooking Wednesday, we’re pairing them with tomatoes, basil, garlic, onions, and pecorino cheese in Pasta alla Norma, a Sicilian dish whose origins are in dispute (read more here) but always involve Catania‘s own Vincenzo Bellini and one of his most famous operas, “Norma.”
I should probably add an “alla Sognatrice” at the end of the name of this dish because this is my take on the traditional recipe, which includes a kind of cheese called ricotta salata. It’s not all that easy to find, so I substituted pecorino, as did blogging buddy Sara over at Ms Adventures in Italy recently.
Other differences: some recipes call for sliced eggplant, but I prefer it diced, and almost all require you to crumble the ricotta salata cheese–I could’ve done that with the pecorino, I suppose, but I prefer it grated.
You’re free to do as you like of course.
Pasta alla Norma
4 small eggplants, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
Peperoncino to taste
1 can of diced tomatoes
8-10 basil leaves, torn
Spaghetti or penne pasta
Wash and dice eggplant. Place in colander and salt well, being sure to coat all sides (use coarse salt if you have it). Let sit for about a half hour and then remove eggplant from colander and pat dry.Heat olive oil in skillet over medium heat. Add eggplant and cook until brown on all sides, about 10 minutes.
Add onion, garlic and peperoncino, and then after a few minutes, add tomatoes. Let simmer for about 15 minutes or until the tomatoes are done to your taste.
In the meantime, prepare pasta in large pot of boiling water.
When sauce is just about finished, add basil, and then combine pasta and sauce–enough to coat the pasta.
Serve immediately with cheese on top.