Happy Sunday! Sunday nights in my Italian family meant pasta for dinner. I have always loved Pasta Alla Norma for 2 reasons… eggplant and ricotta cheese. Well, gone are the days of making homemade ricotta… So what is that on top of the pasta you ask? Well, that’s Nary Dairy’s cashew cheese. I found Nary Dairy last week at the Studio City Farmers Market and fell in love with their “cheeses”! Remember when I Instagramed about them? They are a local company here in Los Angeles and you can buy their cheese at the Studio City and Hollywood Farmers Markets and I highly suggest you do! These cheeses have awesome texture and are packed (and I mean packed!) with flavor! Ok, back to the pasta! Pasta Alla Norma was such a perfect dish when invented in Sicily it was names Norma after the hugely successful Opera by Bellini. And perfect it is, perfect for a Sunday supper!
(Oh and the crazy talented Laura Grier took that picture when I made this for her Major benefit of having professional photogs for friends! Check out her amazing new travel photography site, you’ll get lost on it for hours!)
Pasta Alla Norma
1 lb. pasta (I prefer rigatoni or spaghetti, but use your favorite)
1 large eggplant, diced in 1/2 inch cubes
1 small onion, chopped
28. oz can of whole peeled tomatoes (San Marzano if you can get them)
4 cloves garlic, chopped
a pinch of salt
a pinch of sugar
1 3.5 oz. container of Nary Dairy Cheese (I used the Gilroy garlic flavor)
about 5 fresh large basil leaves, thinly sliced
In a large frying pan, on medium-high, heat up a few tablespoons of olive oil. Working in batches, drop in the eggplant cubes to make one layer in the frying pan. Toss until golden, about 10 minutes. Strain on a paper towel lined plate. Repeat with the rest of the eggplant.
In a sauce pot, on medium, saute the onions in a couple tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. When the onions are soft, pull the tomatoes apart with your hands and add them and the juice to the pot. Stir, cover, and reduce heat to medium low. When the pasta is almost ready, add the pinch of sugar and chopped garlic.
In a large pot, cook your pasta according to the directions until al dente.
In the same frying pan you used for the eggplant, on medium low heat, place the cooked pasta, eggplant, and a few spoonfuls of sauce and toss until covered and warm. Plate and add a dollop of “cheese” and a good sprinkle of basil. Serve immediately.
I hope you enjoy as much as I do