Pasta Alla Norma
My take on Pasta All Norma, an eggplant pasta bowl, made easy, flavorful and perfect for weeknight dinner.
Posted By Savita
Fresh eggplant always make me crave Pasta Alla Norma. Pasta All Norma is an eggplant and pasta dish featuring roasted or sauted eggplant, with a tomato basil sauce and fresh lite cheese. Today I'm sharing a weekday-approved Pasta All Norma with my Modern take on authentic recipe. My recipe is an every-day pasta bowl, simple and easy for weekdays.
This pasta bowl is also complete vegetarian. (our special favorite on Meatless Mondays). I you like veggie-forward eggplant dishes and Pasta Alla Norma, you will also love my Eggplant Ratatouille, Baked Eggplant Parmesan and Eggplant Rollatini Recipes.
Traditional Pasta All Norma is roasted or sauted eggplant with tomato basil sauce, and shavings ricotta salata cheese with lots of basil. My recipe for Pasta all Norma showcases all these flavors but with quick and lite take.
Honestly, on weekdays, I like a pasta bowl which is easy to prepare, has bold flavors to keep my family happy. In my home, a Vegetarian bowl can make my carnivorous family happy only if it is singing with bold scrumptious flavors. (easy-to-prepare is pure hidden bonus for lazy-tired me). The fact that Vishal ate a bowl of pasta without meat means a victory. Cheery-on-top when I'm asked to include this in next week's menu.
Make-it Easy Pasta Alla Norma:
This recipe is weekday approved. I take help of some pantry and low-fat refrigerator staples to prepare an easy Pasta All Norma. Here is what I do:
1) I either grill or roast sliced eggplant for quick, low-oil yet meaty eggplant.
2) For tomato-basil sauce, I either make sauce over the weekend or use my favorite brand of tomato-basil sauce from pantry. This reduce the prep work to more than half.
3) Low-fat cottage cheese is one of our favorite breakfast cheese. It's always in my refrigerator and we love it's clean taste. So instead of buying a pack of ricotta salata just for this recipe. I always reach for low-fat creamy cottage cheese.
Note: You can also use homemade fresh ricotta for pasta alla norma. (I'm planning to share my recipe. But it will be a new post.)
4) I finish the pasta with basil pesto. Basil pesto is ready-to-use and adds such bold basil flavor to this eggplant-tomato pasta dish. It has nuts, parmesan, basil - all in one. I highly recommend using it. In-fact, if you have pesto, you can even skip fresh basil. I also have recipe for homemade Basil Pesto to try.
This Pasta All Norma, by all means is my Modern take on Pasta All Norma. But it fly from kitchen to dinner table in 25-30 minutes. (a dish that otherwise takes 1 hour to prepare) and has restaurant-quality flavors.
Grilled or Roasted Eggplant:
The key ingredient and star of the Pasta Alla Norma is: Eggplant. Personally, I love grilled eggplant for this dish. On weekdays, I use indoor cast iron grilling pan. Spray of oil on griddle and eggplant starts sizzling. It takes 2-3 minutes to grill each side. Eggplant should be thin even sliced for even cooking on the grill.
Note: if grilling outdoor on gas grill. Grill eggplant on low-heat side.
When using roasted eggplant, I preheat oven at 400 degrees. Oil and season eggplant with salt and pepper. Roast for 25-30 minutes or until eggplant is nice and tender.
If you want to make fresh tomato sauce for this dish. I recommend trying my Arrabbiata Sauce.
I hope you like my tasty and easy take on Penne Alla Norma. I say, serve it for a vegetarian pasta dinner tonight! I bet you will have most of the ingredients in pantry right now. Grab few eggplants on your way home. Serve Pasta All Norma in just 30 minutes!
Oh, and don't forget to come back later and let me know how do you like it.
Pasta Alla Norma
- 12 Tomato Sauce (good quality tomato-basil sauce)
- 2 Egg Plant Or Brinjal (medium, firm, thin sliced lengthwsie)
- 2 Garlic (cloves, minced)
- 4 tbsp Olive Oil
- 1/4 tsp Chili Flakes
- 1 lbs Pasta (penne or farfalle )
- 1 Cup Cottage Cheese (or fresh low-fat ricotto cheese)
- 1/3 Cup Basil Pesto
- 2-3 tbsp Basil (fresh leaves, or parsley, for serving)
1. To cook pasta, bring a pot of water to rolling boil. Genrously seaspn with salt. Drop in pasta and cook until al-dente. Don't let pasta go mushy.
2. Pre-heat the grill. Or a cast iron pan. Coat eggplant slices with 1-2 tbsp oil. Massage well. Season with generous pinch or 2 of salt and black pepper. Grill until eggplant has nice grill marks, is cooked tender to your liking. (I grill 2-3 minute each side).
3. If used pan for grilling, after removing eggplant, wipe pan clean. Or use a fresh wide pan and a tbsp of oil. Add garlic and let perfume the oil for 30 seconds. Add tomato sauce with dried basil, chili flakes, and simmer sauce for 5 minutes (covered)
4. Mix in grilled eggplant. Add half of ricotta, all cooked pasta and mix in the sauce gently. Divide eggplant-pasta mix among 3-4 serving bowls (depending upon serving size you want). Top with layer of remaining cheese, and basil pesto (divide equally among bowls). Garnish with fresh basil/parsley and drizzle of olive oil (both optional) Serve and enjoy!
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