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Archive for October, 2010

 

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Pasta alla Norma

Eggplant. A notoriously fickle vegetable (fruit?). I’ve always been wary of it because instructions for recipes always talk about soaking the eggplant in saltwater to remove the bitterness. What if I mess that up? Who wants bitter eggplant? And yet, so many recipes that catch my eye include eggplant in some form or another. It’s something I’ve just got to get over.

Pasta alla Norma
serves 4 (or more)

2 medium eggplants, about 8 oz each, diced small
3 Tbsp olive oil
10 oz dried macaroni or fusili pasta
2/3 c. grated Pecorino cheese
salt and freshly ground black pepper
shredded fresh basil leaves, to garnish

For the tomato sauce:
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 can (14 oz) chopped tomatoes or 1 jar (14 oz) passata

Soak the diced eggplant in a bowl of cold salted water for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Make the sauce. Heat the oil in a large saucepan, add the onion, and cook gently for about 3 minutes, with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir the sauce and add a few spoonfuls of water occasionally, to prevent it from becoming too thick. Remove from the heat.

Drain the eggplants and pat dry. Spread the pieces out in a roasting pan, add the oil, and toss to coat. Bake for 20-25 minutes, turning the eggplants every 4-5 minutes with a spatula so they brown evenly.

Cook the pasta in a large pan of rapidly boiling salted water until al dente (about 10 to 12 minutes). Reheat the tomato sauce. Drain the pasta thoroughly and add it to the tomato sauce, with half the roasted eggplant and half the Pecorino. Toss to mix, and taste for seasoning.

Spoon the pasta and sauce mixture in to a warmed large serving dish and top with the remaining roasted eggplant. Scatter the shredded fresh basil leaves on top, followed by the remaining Pecorino. Service immediately, with generous chunks of crusty bread.

I know this recipe says 4 servings, but I think you could feed 6 or even 8 people, if you add a nice big salad to fill out the meal, or if you serve this as a side to a main course.

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Zucchini Sausage Casserole, Hurricane Earl, 3 Sept 2010

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