Recently, one of our San Diego Private Chefs, Brad, entertained a group of friends at a private cooking class entitled “Trattoria Pasta.” We created a selection of very traditional but somewhat less well known Italian pasta dishes, including a classic Sicilian dish called “Pasta alla Norma,” named for the Opera Norma by Vicenzo Bellini.
This is an easy recipe from celeb chef and host of ABC’s “The Chew,” Mario Batali, that’s perfect for a quick supper and which takes advantage of the bounty of our summer gardens and farmers’ markets. In fact, you could kick this up a notch by grilling your eggplant (sliced thick) for extra flavor, before dicing it and adding it to the pan. Just remember that it will already be cooked, so you won’t need to give it all that extra cooking time in the pan.
Check out some photos of Chef Brad’s cooking class here.
Pasta alla Norma
Recipe by Mario Batali
4 tablespoons virgin olive oil
1 medium red onion, chopped into 1/4 inch dice
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 medium eggplants, cut into 1/4 inch dice
1 28 ounce can Italian plum tomatoes, squeezed by hand
2 sprigs basil
1 sprig thyme
1 pound macaroni rigatoni
1/2 pound ricotta salata, coarsely grated
Bring 6 quarts water to boil and add 2 tablespoons salt.
In a 12 to 14 inch saute pan, heat olive oil until smoking. Add onions and garlic and cool until soft yet not browned, about 5 to 6 minutes. Add eggplant and cook, stirring regularly until softened and lightly browned, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add tomatoes, basil and thyme and bring to a boil. Simmer 15 minutes and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Boil pasta according to package instructions until al dente. Drain well and pour hot pasta into pan with eggplant mixture. Toss to coat and serve immediately, spooning ricotta salata over each portion.
Yields 4 servings