As promised I spent some time in the kitchen this week. I actually spent time doing what I really like doing which is using up all the, not sure what word I want to use. Scraps? leftovers? odd and ends? Basically there were a few pieces of ham, a leek, a half of an onion, well there is usually a half of an onion in the fridge. A large container of fresh spinach. The celery was coming to an end and there was a bag with a few carrots left in it.
I ended up making a couple of different soups with the; I guess I am going with odds and ends. My daughter made a comment after the second night of soup for dinner. Wow a second delicious soup using up what we have on hand. Soup is not hard to make all you need is a few ingredients and some homemade broth or store bought its fine too and your off to the races.
All this talk about soup and I want to share the recipe for the pasta dish I made which proves my point of a few ingredients and you can make a simple but tasty meal. Case in point for our #worldwidewednesday family dinner this past week we were off to Sicily. It probably took me 30-35 minutes to pull the whole thing together but with very few ingredients and it was “mmm tasty” as my mother-in-law says while she’s eating it.
I only took a couple of pictures of the finished dish so forgive me for that part of this, but you should give it a try for something so simple with few ingredients I don’t think you will be disappointed.
Pasta Alla Norma
- 1 large eggplant
- 1 box penne pasta or rigatoni
- cooking oil for frying
- 10 fresh Roma tomatoes
- ½ cup ricotta salata cheese I used regular ricotta
- fresh basil
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- after washing and drying your tomatoes cut them into quarters. If you use a thick skinned tomato you'll want to remove the skin. You can do this by bringing a pot of water to boil and drop the tomato into the hot water for a few seconds up to a minute. remove from the hot water and you should be able to peel off the skin, you might need a knife. Discard the skin
- In a large pot with a cover, add the diced tomatoes and cook covered on a low heat for about 20 minutes or so. You want the tomatoes to release all of the juices. Stirring occasionally so the sauce doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan.
- Once they are ready you can strain to remove any skin or seeds if you would like, I did not do this step. Using a hand mixer or blender you want to puree the tomatoes to a creamy texture. I used my blender. Add some salt and pepper to taste and a few leaves of fresh basil and set aside
- While the tomatoes are cooking down. Lets work on the eggplant. You will want to cut off the top and bottom edges and peel the skin off the eggplant. Once peeled you are going to want to slice the eggplant into ¼ inch pieces. I sliced mine in half and then sliced into smaller pieces. They will be long and thin so to fit into your skillet.
- in a heavy deep skillet add enough oil to fry a few pieces of the eggplant at a time. With the heat on high. Make sure the pieces are dry and then in batches add them to the hot oil. You want them golden brown on both sides. Once browned using a slotted spoon remove the eggplant to a bowl. No need to drain as the oil will help dress the pasta.
- Once cooled a bit you are going to want to dice up the browned eggplant and wait to top onto the pasta
- Cook the pasta to al-dente according to the package instructions. Do not forget to salt your water.
- Once the pasta is cooked and drained, add it to the pot with the tomatoes and stir to combine
- In the bottom of the bowl place the sauced pasta, top with a generous portion of the diced fried eggplant. Then grate or place some ricotta all over the top and dice or tear up a few pieces of fresh basil for the top and Mangia!