Pasta with Eggplant, Tomato, and Ricotta

The fancy Italian name for this dish is “Pasta alla Norma,” and it involves mixing eggplant and pasta with tomatoes and ricotta cheese.  The result is a deliciously creamy and fresh pasta dish that tastes excellent with parmesian and basil. (Note: I use creamy ricotta, while the original Italian recipe calls for ricotta salata, a harder version of the cheese.)

Ingredients

  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 14 oz can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 onion, chopped coarsely
  • pinch of hot chili flakes
  • 8 oz (~250 g) pasta (I like spirals)
  • 1.5 oz (50 g) ricotta
  • large handful fresh basil leaves, chopped coarsely
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • olive oil for frying
  • grated parmesian

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400F/200C.  Trim the ends of the eggplant and slice lengthwise in half.  Cut small slices, about 1/4″ thick, and set aside.
  2. Coat a baking tray in non-stick spray, lay eggplant flat on tray surface, and spray the eggplant again with non-stick spray.  Alternatively you can toss the eggplant with a few T of olive oil.  Bake eggplant 15-20 minutes, flipping halfway through, until they are soft and slightly crispy.
  3. Heat up a large pot of water for the pasta.
  4. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan over medium heat, cook onions and garlic in 1 T olive oil until translucent, about 7 minutes.
  5. Add tomatoes (with juices), and simmer for 15 minutes, until sauce is reduced. When done, remove from heat and stir in the basil.
  6. While the mixture is cooking, start to cook the pasta.  (You should try to time this so that the pasta and sauce are done at approximately the same time.)
  7. Drain the cooked pasta, then toss it with the tomato mixture, eggplant, and ricotta. Serve with grated parmesian.

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