Sunday, May 30, 2010

Pasta alla Norma

Nothing compares to my Nonna's pasta. She grows her own tomatoes and makes her own sauces from scratch and even makes her own mince with the family once a year. One of my earliest food memories comes from my Nonna's backyard. There was a carcass hanging from a steel hook and the whole family was mincing and lending a hand to make the food we would eat for dinner. Chickens and children were running around, music was playing in the background and we laughed as we poured sauce into glass bottles. 

Needless to say, I love my pasta and while I didn't have Nonna's sauce on hand over the weekend, I made this dish called Pasta alla Norma after seeing the recipe on an Italian cooking show, which unfortunately I have forgotten the name of. But thanks Norma, whoever you are, it's not a pasta alla Nonna, but it's not bad at all.

{ Pasta alla Norma }

2 large eggplants
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 brown onion
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
Large bunch of fresh basil, stems finely chopped, leaves reserved
2 cans of tomatoes
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Penne pasta
Parmesan cheese, grated

Cut your eggplants lengthwise then across so their cube-like pieces. Add a little oil to a pan and fry the eggplant in two batches. I was lazy and did it all in one batch and it was still good. Add extra oil if you need to and sprinkle with a bit of the dried oregano. Slosh them around until the eggplant is golden on all sides. Remove and place on a paper towel-covered plate. Saute the onion and garlic and turn heat down to a medium heat. Stir then add the eggplant again. Add the tomatoes and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Season to taste. Cook your penne. When it's ready, drain and put back into the pot. Pour the sauce over the penne, chop up the basil then stir through. Once served add your Parmesan. Enjoy!