Pasta alla Norma

by Jana Harvey on April 13, 2011

2 lbs. small to medium eggplant, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch thick slices
salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1 cup homemade toasted bread crumbs
1 lb. penne
2 cups tomato sauce (see recipe below)
1/2 cup freshly grated pecorino romano
10 fresh basil leaves, roughly torn
8-oz. piece of ricotta salata for grating

1. Bring water to a boil in a large pot and add a healthy handful of sea salt. Remember, the salted water should taste like the sea. 2. Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat until almost smoking. Working in batches, sauté eggplant slices, turning once, until golden brown on both sides. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. 3. In the same pan, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and place on medium-high heat. next add bread crumbs and toast in pan until golden brown. Be careful to pay attention to the pan as the bread crumbs can burn quickly. Once toasted, remove from heat, season with salt, and set aside on paper towel to drain. 4. Preheat oven to 375º F. Grease a 9 by 12 inch baking dish with 1 Tbs. of olive oil. 5. Next add penne to the boiling water for 4-6 minutes; they should stillb e quite firm (“uber” al dente) as they will continue to cook in the oven. Drain very well, lace in a large bowl, and toss with 1 cup of the tomato sauce. 6. Cover the bottom of the baking dish with 1/4 cup of the tomato sauce. Top with half the bread crumbs, then add half the pasta. Arrange half of the eggplant slices, overlapping them slightly, on top of the pasta. Pour about 1/4 cup of tomato sauce over the eggplant, and top with half of the pecorino and half of the basil. Top with the remaining pasta, arrange the remaining epplant over the pasta, and pur remaining tomato sauce. Sprinkle with remaining pecorino and basil, and then the remaining bread crumbs. Drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. 7. Bake for 45 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving. Right before serving, grate ricotta salata over the finished dish and enjoy!

Tomato Sauce:
1/4 cup extra-virgin oil
1 medium yellow onion, cut into 1/4 inch dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 medium carrot, finely shredded
1 Tbs. tomato paste
Two 28-oz. cans whole tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
3/4 cup Scott Harvey Barbera
1 Tbs. dried marjoram
salt and pepper to season

1. In a 3-quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, and cook until soft and golden, about 8 minutes. 2. Next add the carrot and tomato paste and cook until the carrot is soft, about 5 minutes. 3. Now add the tomatoes,with their juice, and the wine and bring to a boil, stirring often. Lower the heat, add the marjoram and simmer until thick, about 30 minutes. 4. Season with salt and pepper.

From: Magda Gagliano

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