As September starts and summer comes to a close, I find myself in a funk. I love summer and I hate winter. I don't mind fall, but I know that winter is just around the corner and there will be no more sunshine, swimming, barbecues or fresh local vegetables. So at this time, I try to make as much of my favorite summer comfort food as I can. This is my all time favorite. I've made it for years, but it's never shown up on the blog. I'm not sure why.
Pasta A La Norma - adapted initially from the Gourmet Cookbook, but i haven't looked at the actual recipe in ages
1 small eggplant (or 2 Japanese ones)
1 28 oz can of whole peeled tomatoes (or several fresh ones, peeled. Oh summer)
lots of olive oil
pasta of your choice
1. Heat some olive oil over high heat. Slice up your eggplant and shallow fry it on each side in batches. You want the olive oil to get soaked up into the eggplant and for the eggplant slices to turn golden brown. You'll have to keep adding more oil as you cook because eggplant is like an olive oil sponge.
2. Salt and pepper the eggplant slices and set aside. Don't skimp on the salt.
3. Add the tomatoes to the pan with the olive oil, turn down the heat to medium and add some salt (you could add a little sugar too, to help the tomatoes break down). They have to cook for a while - about 20 minutes is good, so that they really break down into a rich sauce. You can cook the pasta at this time as well. Stir occasionally and don't let the tomatoes stick or burn.
4. Chop up the eggplant into chunks and add to the sauce.
5. Add the basil on top - torn, chopped, whatever.
6. Add the pasta to the sauce and mix to combine. Serve with a dollop of creamy ricotta cheese.
This is one of my all time favorite meals. It's a great vegetarian entree. The eggplant is meaty and delicious and the fresh tomato sauce is an awesome summer treat. The ricotta is a cool change from salty Parmesan (although that is good too). I would eat this every day.