Pasta alla Norma

from Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy


2 large globe eggplants, diced into 1-inch cubes
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, small dice
4 garlic cloves, sliced
1 teaspoon-1tablespoon hot chili flakes, according to taste
1 28-ounce can Italian plum tomatoes, crushed
2 sprigs fresh basil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pound pasta of your choice (I used rigatoni)
6-8 ounces ricotta salata, crumbled or thickly grated
Handful of fresh basil leaves, torn or sliced for garnish


Place the diced eggplant in a large colander with a plate underneath it and sprinkle with a generous amount of salt. Place another plate on top of the eggplant and let stand for 30-45 minutes.  Remove the eggplant and dry thoroughly with a paper towel.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add onions and saute until soft and translucent, about 7-8 minutes.  Add the garlic and chili flakes for the last minute or two until fragrant.

Add the tomatoes and basil sprigs to the saucepan. Bring to a healthy simmer, lower heat to medium-low and simmer covered for 20 minutes.  Uncover and continue to simmer for about 15-20 minutes more, or until sauce thickens.  Add salt and pepper if needed.

While sauce is simmering, cook the pasta and the eggplant.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta until al dente.

In a large skillet heat, the 1/2 cup olive oil over medium high heat until almost smoking.  Add the eggplant in batches and fry until golden brown, about 5-8 minutes.  Remove to a plate lined with paper towels. Set aside.

To serve, toss the pasta with the tomato sauce. Top with the eggplant. Sprinkle the ricotta salata over the top and garnish with the sliced basil.