Pasta alla Norma is a classic dish consisting of pasta served in a tomato and aubergine sauce. It’s usually topped with ricotta salata, but I like it with mozzarella and parmesan, so it becomes reminiscent of melanzane alla parmigiana. I’m always tempted to add a chilli when I make this, but actually I think the creamy sweetness of the roasted aubergine would be overshadowed by it, so I don’t. But if you wanted to, a small red chilli in with the onions at the start would be delicious I have no doubt.
Pasta alla Norma
- 1 aubergine, diced
- 1 whole bulb garlic
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
- 35g unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp tomato puree/concentrate
- 100ml vegetable stock
- 1 handful basil leaves, torn or roughly chopped
- 1 x 125g ball of mozzarella, diced
- Salt and black pepper
- 500g pasta of your choice (I like to use spaghetti or fresh orecchiette)
- Grated vegetarian parmesan-style cheese to serve
- Heat the oven to 180’c fan. Toss the diced aubergine in a roasting dish with 2 tbsp of the olive oil, and season with salt and black pepper. Take the whole garlic bulb, and slice the top off it, so that each of the cloves are just exposed. Dribble a touch of olive oil onto the exposed cloves, then wrap the whole bulb in tin foil, and pop it into the roasting dish with the aubergine. Roast in the pre-heated oven for 40 minutes, stirring and turning it all over half way through.
- Meanwhile, make the tomato sauce. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil and the butter in a large saucepan, then add the onion and saute it over a medium heat until soft and translucent. Add the tomato puree, then the tinned tomatoes and vegetable stock, and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, then simmer, stirring frequently, for 30 minutes. Remove it from the heat, then season with salt and black pepper, and stir in the basil leaves.
- Once the aubergine is cooked, stir it into the sauce. Set the garlic aside in its foil and let it cool until it’s comfortable to handle. Unwrap it, then turn it upside down and squeeze the soft, jammy flesh out of the skin, and into the sauce.
- Cook the pasta in a very large pot of salted water, until just al dente. Add a splash of the pasta-cooking water to the sauce, then drain the pasta and add it to the pan containing the sauce. Toss it all together, then throw in the mozzarella and mix to distribute it evenly. Serve immediately, with grated cheese on top.