Or maybe not, if you already appreciated this vegetable.
I have a friend who says she finds eggplant taste like cigarette butts. I get that, on some level. There’s a lot of dishes in which I dislike eggplant, to say the very least. But if it’s stewed for a while in a a sauce with some garlic, then yeah well, get me two plates, for starts.
The recipe I’m about to share stems from a fond memory of my student time. I did a minor in Publishing courses with a bunch of the most enthusiastic and lovely book fanatics (ah gowan can I call us geeks?) in the world. To celebrate the end of a term we gathered for chats, laughs and this pasta. The hostess of this evening was a fellow-student who, besides cherishing a love for literature, was also a passionate foodie who even went on to write her own cookbook. At the end of the evening I had to ask her the recipe and she told me she made a “Pasta alla Norma”, easy to Google.
I came across such a variety of recipes that were all supposed to be Pasta alla Normal that I decided to throw some things together that I liked and it’s probably nothing like how the Italian meant it, scusi.
1 large eggplant, cut into cubes
1 or 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 can of chopped tomatoes (400 gr.)
1 onion (I like red best!), cut small
1 ball of mozzarella, cut up in chunks
175 gr. penne (or whatever pasta you can find)
splash of olive oil
some chilli flakes
Lightly salt the eggplant cubes and leave them for twenty minutes to draw out excess water – and yes, I sometimes do skip this step because patience is a virtue I don’t always have. But it’s tastier to have that patience, trust me.
Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and saute the onion and garlic for a few minutes. Add the eggplant, chopped tomatoes, some salt and a few chilli flakes and let this stew for 20 to 30 minutes until eggplant is completely soft.
Meanwhile cook the penne in salted boiling water. When ready, either stir penne through the sauce or serve sauce on top of the penne.
Garnish with the mozzarella.
When the eggplant and tomato sauce has cooled down, it has a very similar taste to an arabian tomato relish, which my two dear Syrian friends call Betanzjan. Whenever making Pasta Abnormal I always make sure to have some leftovers to eat with bread or crackers the next day. Just add some koriander, tiny but of lemon juice and quickly use a blender if the eggplant chunks are a bit big. Enjoy!