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Pasta all Norma (Pasta with Tomatoes, Eggplant, and Ricotta Salata)

Serves 4 Sometimes cooks add a pinch of sugar to the sauce to tame any last bit of bitterness in the eggplant. The dish is finished with ricotta salata; although nontraditional, you might prefer to add some cubed fresh mozzarella at the very end instead of the ricotta salata.


  • 2 slender eggplants (Japanese, if available, about 1 3/4 lb total)
  • Kosher salt, as needed
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup minced yellow onion
  • 4 large tomatoes, peeled (if desired) and diced
  • Freshly ground black pepper, as needed
  • 1 lb rigatoni or similar short tube-shaped pasta
  • 1/2 cup torn basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup grated ricotta salata (2 oz)


  1. Place the eggplant in a colander. Salt the eggplants and drain them for at least 1 hour.

  2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add enough oil to coat the skillet (about 2 tablespoons). Add the eggplants and fry, turning the pieces occasionally. Keep frying until the eggplants are tender and golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes.

  3. Heat another large skillet over medium-low heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and the onions. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are tender, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and a little salt and pepper. Decrease the heat to low and simmer just until the tomatoes are very hot.

  4. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the rigatoni and stir a few times to separate the pasta. Cook uncovered until just tender to the bite, 10 to 12 minutes.

  5. Drain the pasta immediately through a colander. Shake well to remove any water clinging to the pasta. Pour the hot rigatoni into a serving bowl and add the tomato mixture, about three quarters of the fried eggplants, and the basil. Toss together to combine.

  6. Serve at once, topped with the reserved eggplant and the ricotta salata.

Copyright © 2019 The Culinary Institute of America

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