Roasted Garlic Pasta alla Norma
Roasted garlic-infused olive oil enlivens Rach’s version of Pasta Norma, named after Bellini’s opera, Norma. They say that this dish was once prepared in Sicily especially for Bellini!
- 2 whole bulbs garlic
- 1/3-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), plus additional for drizzling
- Salt and black pepper
- 1 medium eggplant
- 1 pound whole wheat or whole grain penne pasta
- 1 small red chili pepper, seeded and finely chopped or a couple of pinches of red pepper flakes
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- 1 can Italian tomatoes in puree (28 ounces)
- 1 cup basil, torn and loosely packed
- 1/3 pound wedge ricotta salata, crumbled
- Pre-heat the oven to 425°F.
- Cut the ends off the garlic bulbs, exposing the tops of the cloves. Place on a piece of foil, then drizzle with EVOO, salt and pepper. Wrap the garlic up in the foil and roast for 45 minutes. Let cool, then squish out the garlic cloves from the skins in a bowl and mash with a fork. Cover with EVOO, about 1/3-1/2 cup.
- Place a cooling rack on a baking sheet. Slice the eggplant lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Paint each piece with some of the roasted garlic oil and season with salt and pepper. Place the eggplant in the oven and roast for 15-20 minutes, until golden and tender. Remove and let cool, then cut into bite-size pieces.
- While the eggplant roasts, bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Add salt and cook the pasta to al dente.
- Place the remaining EVOO with the roasted garlic in a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Add the red chili pepper or flakes and onion and sauté until tender, 5-6 minutes. Add stock and stir. Add the tomatoes and mash with a potato masher. Season the sauce with salt and pepper. Stir in the eggplant and heat through. Add the basil and wilt into the sauce.
- Drain the pasta and toss with sauce. Adjust the salt and pepper, to taste, and top with the crumbled ricotta salata.