If you saw my recent Instagram post then you know we had a mega-festa for the ferragosto August holiday. I made enough Penne with Eggplant Sauce (alla Norma) for over 30 people and by the time we got to the pasta course we had eaten so much else that I ended up with leftover pasta!
Penne with Eggplant Sauce is one of my absolute favorite pasta dishes because the hero ingredient is eggplant and I adore eggplants! I decided on this pasta because we had an abundance of beautiful purple eggplants in our garden.
The ingredients are classic: deep fried eggplant, a fresh tomato sauce, fresh basil and grated ricotta salata. Basically you slice or cube the eggplant, salt it and let drain for an hour or two. Once all the bitter liquids have purged out you rinse the eggplant to get rid of the saltiness and then squeeze it dry. Then deep fry the slices and set aside. I usually set aside a few slices to use as a garnish.
In the meantime make a tomato sauce with extra-virgin olive oil, fresh or canned peeled tomatoes - in this dish canned peeled tomatoes work better - and a garlic clove. While the sauce is cooking roughly grate the ricotta salata.
Penne pasta is ideal for this dish. Once it’s cooked I put it in the serving dish and toss in the tomato sauce. I then toss in the eggplant cubes and about ⅔ of the ricotta salata.
The last step is to top the pasta dish with the remaining ricotta salata, the fresh basil and the reserved eggplant slices. If you’ve never had this pasta dish then go for it! It’s exquisitely delicious!
Penne with Eggplant Sauce is a Sicilian pasta dish. Supposedly the name comes from the Vincenzo Bellini Opera, Norma. Whatever its history it’s absolutely delicious!
Penne With Eggplant Sauce (alla Norma)
This Sicilian pasta dish takes its name from the opera "Norma" by Catanian born
Vincenzo Bellini. What makes the sauce so special is the use of grated ricotta salata
as a garnish.
500 grams Penne pasta
2 eggplants, cubed or sliced
½ kilogram can peeled tomatoes
1 garlic clove, smashed
1 hot pepper
20 fresh basil leaves
70 grams Ricotta salata, coarsely grated
(Ricotta that is aged and hardened and grateable
Salt the cubed eggplant and allow to drain in a colander for 30 minute up to several hours.
Squeeze out the excess liquid and sauté in ¼ cup olive oil until tender.
Sauté the garlic and red pepper in hot olive oil until it begins to sizzle.
Add the tomatoes and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened.
Add the fried eggplant to the tomato sauce.
Cook the penne in boiling salted water until they are al dente.
Drain the pasta and toss into the sauce.
Garnish with the grated ricotta and basil leaves and serve the Penne with Eggplant Sauce immediately.
It makes such a difference to use a beautiful pasta serving bowl for your pasta!
Please note that the below printable recipe can be viewed and printed in either metric or U.S. conventional measurements; just click on your preference within the recipe.
- 500 grams Penne pasta
- 2 eggplants cubed or sliced
- ½ kilogram can peeled tomatoes
- 1 garlic clove smashed
- 1 hot pepper
- 20 fresh basil leaves
- 70 grams Ricotta salata coarsely grated
- Salt the cubed eggplant and allow to drain in a colander for 30 minute up to several hours.
- Squeeze out the excess liquid and sauté in ¼ cup olive oil until tender.
- Sauté the garlic and red pepper in hot olive oil until it begins to sizzle.
- Add the tomatoes and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened.
- Add the fried eggplant to the tomato sauce.
- Cook the penne in boiling salted water until they are al dente. The water should taste like the sea.
- Drain the pasta and toss into the sauce.
- Garnish with the grated ricotta salata and basil leaves and serve immediately.
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