Fettucini alla Norma

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Yesterday Sheila gave a primer on making fresh pasta; today, she shares her favorite pasta sauce to dress it! Run, don’t walk, to the farmer’s market, gather up the last of the tomatoes and eggplant, and settle in for a cozy night of Italian comfort food. -Amy

Pasta alla Norma is one of my favorite dishes, and simply perfect to showcase the last of the season’s eggplant, tomato, and basil.  They are shining this time of year, begging to show off their beauty. There’s a bit of sweetness from the roasted, melting eggplant, and I’ve always been a sucker for basil, mint, and hot pepper.

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This dish is going into heavy rotation in my house. If you don’t have time to make the homemade pasta, it will still be delicious with dried pasta. And it’s perfect for company – you can make both the pasta and the sauce ahead of time.

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Fettucine alla Norma

Recipe adapted from the Rome Sustainable Food Project’s Pasta cookbook

Prep Time: 1 Hours

Ingredients:

  • 1 to 1 1/2 pounds eggplant, peeled leaving stripes of skin and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 25 fresh basil leaves, reserving 5 or so to garnish
  • 5 fresh mint leaves, to garnish
  • 1 teaspoon hot pepper flakes
  • 36 ounce canned San Marzano tomatoes, pureed with a hand blender or chopped by hand
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1 pound fettucine, homemade or dried
  • 1 1/2 cups ricotta salata, grated on a box grater using the large holes
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Equipment
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Baking sheet
  • Parchment paper
  • Heavy-bottomed pot for the pasta
  • Sauté pan

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. In a large mixing bowl, toss the diced eggplant with 1/2 cup olive oil, seasoning generously with salt. (You can always add more salt, but can't take it away!)
  2. Put the eggplant onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, and roast in the oven for about 40 to 50 minutes, rotating, stirring, and tasting for seasoning and doneness every now and then. Cook until it becomes golden brown and soft.
  3. Warm the sauté pan over medium heat and add the remaining 1/2 cup olive oil, the sliced red onion, and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent. Add roughly 20 whole basil leaves, the hot pepper, and the sliced cherry tomatoes to the onions and allow them to cook together for 30 seconds. Pour in the tomato puree and simmer until the sauce is reduced by about half.
  4. The eggplant should be just about done by now. Put on a pot of salted water - it should taste like the sea - to boil. When the eggplant is cooked, drop the fettucine into the boiling water, until it is almost al dente. Drain the fettucine when it is about 3 minutes away from done, reserving 1 cup cooking water. You'll finish cooking the pasta in the sauce.
  5. Transfer the pasta into the pan with the tomato sauce, along with 3/4 of the eggplant. Simmer on medium high for about 2 minutes, adding cooking water as needed to prevent sticking. Portion out into bowls, topping with the remaining eggplant, mint and basil leaves, grated ricotta salata, and black pepper. Enjoy!
Photos taken and styled by Sheila James.

Eat Boutique is an award-winning shop and story-driven recipe site created by Maggie Battista–shop girl, writer, author, and creative business coach. After hosting pop-up markets for 25,000+ guests, Maggie is working to open her first permanent Eat Boutique–a food-retail concept space with a new way to the very best food–as well as coaching women in food to reach life and business goals. Her second cookbook, A New Way to Food: 100 Recipes to Encourage a Healthy Relationship with Food, Nourish Your Beautiful Body, and Celebrate Real Wellness for Life, will be published by Roost Books on February 5, 2019. 

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