Eggplant Lovers—Pasta Alla Norma Will Be Your New Favorite Pasta Dinner

If you love eggplant, pasta alla Norma could become your new favorite pasta dish. While I enjoy eggplant Parmesan and eggplant rollatini, when I want less work but the same eggplant flavors,  

I turn to this red sauce-based pasta recipe. It's a classic Sicilian recipe with good reason, and it's the ideal easy summer dinner to celebrate peak fresh flavors.  

Ingredient – 1/4 c.extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed – 1 lb.eggplant, cut into 1-inch cube – Kosher salt – 1 lb.rigatoni – 1small yellow onion, chopped – 3cloves garlic, minced

– 1 tsp.dried oregano – 1/4 tsp.red pepper flake – 1(28-oz.) can crushed tomatoe – Freshly ground black pepper – Ricotta salata, for serving – Basil, for serving

Direction 1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add rigatoni and boil until al dente according to box instructions. Reserve 1 cup pasta water, then drain. 2. In another large pot over medium heat, heat oil. Add eggplant, working in batches as necessary to not overcrowd the pan. Cook eggplant until crispy and golden and soft inside, 8 to 10 minutes. Place on a plate to drain and season with salt. Repeat with remaining eggplant, adding more oil as needed.

1. Drain all but 2 tablespoons of oil from pot or add more oil as needed. Add onion and cook until soft, 5 minutes, then add garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, 1 minute more. Add crushed tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper. Let simmer 10 minutes. 2. Add pasta and ¼ cup pasta water and toss to coat, then add in eggplant, along with any oil on the plate. Add more pasta water to loosen sauce as needed. 3. Serve warm with ricotta salata and fresh basil.

This classic pasta was named after the title character of the opera Norma by Vincenzo Bellini, an Italian composer from the 1800s. Combining pan-fried eggplant with a quick marinara sauce and ricotta salata, this pasta dish is certainly worthy of the titular role. 

Pasta: You can really use any pasta shape here, but I love a thicker noodle with a hollow center that can hold pockets of the sauce. I went with rigatoni here, but you can really choose any noodle shape you please! Onion: A small yellow onion—chopped—starts off our pasta sauce.

Onion: A small yellow onion—chopped—starts off our pasta sauce. Garlic: I use 3 cloves of garlic here, but you can up the amount if you’re a garlic fanatic. Seasonings: Dried oregano and red pepper flakes—along with salt and pepper—are the only seasonings you need for this recipe. Adjust the red pepper flakes to taste—if you’re a fan of heat, feel free to up the amount. Crushed Tomatoes: Our rich tomato sauce has a base of a can of crushed tomatoes. I prefer crushed because they retain some of their texture, but result in a fairly smooth sauce.

The first step is to cook your pasta according to the box instructions. Don’t be shy when salting your pasta water! When your pasta is done boiling, reserve 1 cup of the pasta water to use later, then drain and set aside. 

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