Pasta alla norma is a satisfying Sicilian pasta with tender eggplant, tomato sauce, and ricotta salata cheese. All the comforting Italian flavors we love in just one pan. This is one vegetarian main dish that even meat lovers will enjoy.
Slice and Salt the Eggplant. Trim the eggplant and partially peel them in a striped pattern (zebra pattern). Slice them into ½ inch thick rounds. Season the eggplant slices with kosher salt on both sides and lay them flat for a few minutes (up to 30 minutes if you have the time). Wipe the eggplant dry and remove excess salt using a paper towel.
Heat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Roast the eggplant. Brush the bottom of a large sheet pan (or two) with extra virgin olive oil. Arrange the eggplant slices in the pans in one single layer (eggplant slices should not overlap, each should be comfortably touching the bottom of the sheet pan). Roast in the heated oven until deeply golden brown, anywhere from 35 to 40 minutes, turning over mid-way through.
Make the Sauce. Meanwhile, get going on the sauce. In a large deep pan, heat 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, lower the heat and cook, tossing regularly, until the garlic gains a little bit of color. Add the tomatoes (with their juices), oregano and a good pinch of kosher salt and black pepper. Bring the mixture to a quick boil, then lower the heat and let simmer briefly.
When ready, add the roasted eggplant to sauce. Let simmer while you cook the pasta.
Cook the pasta in boiling salted water according to package instructions (mine took about 11 minutes). Drain and combine the pasta with the eggplant and sauce (if needed, add a little bit of the pasta water and toss until the pasta is well-coated). Taste and adjust seasoning.
Add chopped parsley and grated ricotta salata cheese to finish.
Salting the eggplant before cooking is an optional step, but I do think it helps its flavor and texture
Other tomato sauce options: If you keep some homemade spagetti sauce in your fridge, that will work too. Or, if you're too short on time, you can use a quality store-bought marinara sauce instead).
Make-ahead option: You can prepare the sauce and roast the eggplant one day in advance. Store them in the fridge in separate containers.
Leftovers & Storage: Store leftover pasta all norma in a tight-lid container in the fridge for 3 days. Warm up over medium heat.
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