Thank you DaVinci for sponsoring this post!
When I saw these beautiful light purple eggplants at the farm stand this week I immediately got cravings for one of my all-time favorite pasta dishes. Pasta alla Norma is a traditional pasta dish from the island of Sicily, Italy. I first discovered this super simple yet seriously yummy pasta featuring crispy eggplant when I was studying abroad in Sicily during college and have been a fan ever since.
DaVinci’s authentic imported Italian pasta is the perfect foundation for this easy recipe. Their gourmet pasta is made in Italy from 100% durum wheat semolina using a warm air-dry process to cultivate the perfect texture.
When eggplant is cooked correctly it has an amazing flavor that can’t be rivaled. Meaning, if my eggplant isn’t crispy I’m not into it. Mushy = no thank you. You can achieve this in a few different ways such as pan-frying, but the easiest and quickest way I’ve found is to broil thinly sliced eggplant until it is browned to crispy perfection on both sides.
Added to a simple quick tomato sauce and tossed with spaghetti or any of DaVinci’s 50 pasta varieties and you’ve got pasta alla Norma. It is simply served with fresh basil leaves and traditionally with grated ricotta salata cheese, which is an aged dry ricotta cheese. Or you can do as I did here and swap the cheese for a vegan alternative of easy homemade almond ricotta, which I’ve included the recipe for at the end of this post.
Do you have a favorite easy pasta recipe? Share your own recipes in DaVinci’s Fun & Done Sweepstakes for a chance to win their “Anything Is Pastable” prize pack including a year’s supply of DaVinci Pasta!
And if you’re in need of more pastable inspiration check out the DaVinci facebook page for loads more recipes!
Mangia bene! xx Kaity
Recipe after the jump…
- 1 lb DaVinci Spaghetti
- 4 small eggplant about 1.5 lbs
- 2.5 lbs fresh tomatoes or two 28oz can of diced tomatoes
- 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 teaspoons kosher salt divided
- 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper divided
- 1 teaspoon sugar optional
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano or 2 teaspoons fresh oregano
- 1 shallot
- 2 cloves garlic
- splash of wine optional
- fresh basil
- ricotta salata or almond ricotta
- Bring 4 quarts of salted water to a boil to cook spaghetti.
- Prepare Sauce: Rough chop 1 shallot and mince 2 coves of garlic. Remove stem from tomatoes and chop them into 1/2” sized chunks. Heat a large deep-sided skillet on medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil to hot pan. Sauté shallot until it starts to brown, about 3 minutes. Add garlic, oregano and black pepper and stir until garlic just starts to brown. Deglaze pan with a splash of wine. Add tomatoes, salt and sugar and cook on medium heat until the sauce comes together and reduces a bit, about 10-15 minutes.
- While sauce is cooking prepare and cook the eggplant. Turn oven on broil. Line a baking sheet with tinfoil. Remove stems from eggplant and cut into quarters lengthwise. Slice each quarter section into 1/4” thick slices. Add eggplant pieces to a bowl and toss with 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, 1.5 teaspoons kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper until evenly coated. Spread eggplant out into one layer on the baking sheet. Broil until tops are browned then flip with a spatula and brown the other side. Depending on your oven this could take 5 minutes or 15 minutes. When both sides of eggplant are browned remove from oven and set aside until sauce is ready.
- Once water as come to boil, add the spaghetti and reduce cooking time for al dente doneness by 1 minute according to the package instructions. Scoop spaghetti out of water using a pasta grabber or tongs and add directly to sauce and reduce heat to low. Or you can strain spaghetti in a colander, but first reserve some pasta water to loosen sauce if necessary. Add eggplant to the pan with sauce and spaghetti and toss everything together with tongs over low heat cooking for about 1 minute until pasta is al dente. Use a little pasta water to loosen sauce if needed. Remove from heat and stir in fresh basil leaves.
- Serve immediately in bowls with more fresh basil, drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and top with grated ricotta salata, or dollops of almond ricotta for a vegan alternative. See recipe for almond ricotta below.
- Store leftovers in a covered container, refrigerated for up to 1 week. Reheat to serve.
- 1 cup raw almonds
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- Cover almonds in a jar with water and soak for at least 2 hours or overnight.
- Drain off soaking liquid and remove the almond skins. The skin should slip off easily by pinching the almond between your fingers.
- Add almonds and the remaining ingredients to a blender or food processor and puree until the mixture reaches a smooth, thick, paste-like texture, like a thick ricotta. Use a blender tamper or stop and scrape sides of bowl down throughout the process.
- Store in a covered container, refrigerated for up to 1 week.
This post was in collaboration with and sponsored by DaVinci. All content and opinions expressed here are my own. Read more about my sponsored post and affiliate policy here.