Wednesday, June 17, 2020

What Day is It? Quarantine Kitchen; Pasta Alla Norma

Almost three weeks ago, I lost a dear friend; we had traveled together with our spouses, and she had led my last tour to Sicily in April 2019.  I've had her and her family on my heart and on my mind this week---somehow I feel her loving presence nearby in many ways, and today I was remembering our time in Palermo.
Dr. C. and I have lost 7 friends all to non-Covid related illnesses, and this has been a tough time.  Tonight, it was time to get back in the kitchen, and so tonights' meatless Wednesday was a typical dish you will find in many restaurants in Sicily, Pasta all Norma.  This is a dish that is almost ready while the pasta water is boiling.  I made a pilgrimage to my favorite Italian store today and bought ricotta salata to make this truly authentic. 

Pasta Alla Norma
Serves 6

1 medium eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch dice
One pound penne, or other shaped pasta like rigatoni, cooked 2 minutes short of al dente reserving some of the hot pasta water
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup finely chopped 
pinch red pepper flakes
One 28-ounce can chopped tomatoes, or tomato puree
1/4 cup finely chopped basil
1/4 cup finely chopped Italian parsley
salt and pepper
1/2 cup crumbled Ricotta Salata with more for garnish

Put the eggplant into a colander, and sprinkle liberally with salt.  Let stand for 15 to 20 minutes then squeeze out any moisture.  
In a large skillet, heat the oil, saute the onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes, until the onion is translucent.  

                               Add the eggplant, and saute until the eggplant begins to brown.  
Add the tomatoes, basil, and parsley simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until thickened.  Season with salt and pepper.  

Add the ricotta salata, and cook another 3 minutes, until the cheese is melted.  
Toss the pasta with the sauce, add some of the pasta if needed, and serve garnished with additional ricotta salata, or shredded Pecorino Romano cheese.  
This is a great meatless dish to add to your repertoire, and eggplant is now in season, so it's easy to find beautiful eggplants at your farmer's market.  
I hope that you all are staying safe and well, and I'll be back soon.  Wear a mask; it's a show of love for others.  

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