Monday, September 20, 2010

Pasta alla Norma

Let me just start by saying I haven't touched my camera in two weeks except to take a picture of this dish. Enjoy this picture, it's the only I have of our food lately. :)

That said, I love eggplant. I never thought I would say that. However, eggplant in pasta sauce is just divine. It adds a nice texture and just a slight flavor. Sigh. I loved this dish and am wishing it was still around.

We all liked this pretty well. Curtis and I really enjoyed. Little I loved the eggplant in it. J and M were suspect about its presence. I gleamed some inspiration from Pasta with Robust Summer Sauce I made a couple of weekends ago (or has it been a month already?). The largest inspiration--anchovies. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, I love anchovies. Anchovies got a bad rap sometime in the 70's/early 80's. Anchovies rock. They provide that last taste needed in dishes--umami. Give anchovies a chance sometime, like in the recipe for instance. They're not terribly expensive and they pack a lot of umpf! for just a small amount used.

Here it is: Pasta alla Norma alla Melani!

Pasta alla Norma
adapted from Gourmet

2 lg eggplants
olive oil
1 T dried oregano
4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely sliced
large bunch of basil, leaves thinly sliced (roll up like a cigar and thinly slice into ribbons)
1 t white wine vinegar
2 anchovies, minced
28 oz (1 -28 oz can) diced tomatoes,
salt and pepper, to taste
1 lb spaghetti or other long, skinny pasta (I used cappellini)
grated Parmesan cheese

Cut the eggplants into 1/2" cubes (leaving the skin on). Add a little oil to a large skillet and heat. Fry the eggplant in batches, adding just enough oil to prevent the eggplant from sticking. You don't want the eggplant to bathe in oil to prevent them from getting oily tasting later. Fry into the eggplant are tender and starting to brown. Remove from pan and sprinkle with some oregano.

Return all eggplant to the pan, reduce the heat to medium and add a little more oil (as needed, to prevent sticking). Add the garlic and stir. Cook until garlic is fragrant, then add white wine vinegar, anchovies, and tomatoes (you can puree the tomatoes before adding if you wish, but I preferred chunky tomatoes). Simmer for 10 - 15 minutes, taste, and adjust seasonings. Add half the basil leaves (about 2 - 4 T).

Meanwhile, cook pasta. Reserve 1/2 c of cooking liquid, drain pasta, and return to cooking pot. Add the tomato sauce to the pasta pot and a little (2 - 4 T) of cooking water and toss together over low heat. Taste and adjust seasonings. To serve, sprinkle with remaining basil and Parmesan cheese.

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