A Sicilian pasta dish made with eggplant, tomatoes, fresh herbs and ricotta salata, pasta alla Norma was named after the famous opera Norma, composed in the 1830s by Vincenzo Bellini. Here, we put a new twist on this classic by roasting the tomatoes, which adds depth of flavor to the sauce. The red pepper flakes also add some kick; feel free to adjust the quantity according to your preference.
Pasta alla Norma
- 6 tomatoes, preferably heirloom, halved horizontally
- 4 Tbs. (2 fl. oz./60 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 eggplant, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes, or to taste
- 1 lb. (500 g) dried penne
- 1 Tbs. red wine vinegar
- 1 Tbs. chopped fresh basil, plus whole leaves for garnish
- 1 Tbs. chopped fresh oregano
- 1/4 lb. (125 g) ricotta salata cheese, grated
1. Preheat an oven to 375°F (190°C).
2. Place the tomatoes, cut side up, on a baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 Tbs. of the olive oil and season with salt and black pepper. Roast until the tomatoes are falling apart, about 45 minutes. Set aside.
3. In a large sauté pan over medium heat, warm the remaining 3 Tbs. olive oil. Add the eggplant and a pinch each of salt and black pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the eggplant is very tender, about 15 minutes. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes and roasted tomatoes and stir to combine.
4. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook according to the package instructions until al dente, then drain.
5. Stir the vinegar, basil and oregano into the sauce. Add the pasta and stir to coat. Season to taste with salt and black pepper and transfer to a serving dish. Top with the cheese, garnish with basil leaves and serve immediately. Serves 4.
Williams Sonoma Test Kitchen