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Pasta Alla Norma
SERVES: 4 to 6
PREP: 15 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 40 minutes
An easy main-dish pasta that’s anything but Norma(l)
If you like eggplant parm, you’ll love this pasta. Cooking the eggplant down in a generous amount of olive oil makes it velvety and soft (the only way you want to do eggplant), and the simple tomatoey sauce and two kinds of cheese bring the dish together quickly. I love rigatoni here, but let your pasta flag fly and use your personal favorite shape!
½ cup finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, plus more for garnish
1 cup ricotta cheese, preferably full-fat
Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Cover, reduce to a simmer and reserve like that.
Heat the olive oil in a large (12-inch) skillet and raise the heat to medium-high. Add the eggplant, onion, ½ teaspoon of the salt, and the black pepper and cook, stirring often, until the onions are golden and softened and the eggplant has shrunk and is browned, 9 to 10 minutes.
Add the garlic and chili flakes and cook, stirring, 1 more minute. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add the can of tomatoes with their juice and basil, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the sauce is thickened, 15 minutes.
While the sauce is simmering, crank the pasta water back up to high and cook the pasta to al dente according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water.
Stir the pasta and Parm into the sauce and warm through, 2 to 3 minutes, adding splashes of pasta water to thin the sauce to your desired consistency.
Season with more salt and pepper, divide among bowls, dollop with the ricotta, and garnish with more basil and Parm.