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As you may have seen me mention before, we are a house of pasta lovers. However we all too often default to pesto as our way to serve it. Not that that’s bad, of course, but it is nice to change things up too. This pasta alla Norma makes a great alternative with simple, delicious flavors of tomato, eggplant and basil, and it’s so easy to make.
I have made many other pasta recipes but the thing is, since pasta is one of my go-tos for a quick meal, they don’t all work when I’m short on time. This pasta alla Norma is different. It’s perfect for those busy nights and it’s made even easier with the Prego Farmers’ Market® sauce and fresh produce I picked up at Walmart to make it. Since my basil has just about given up living for the year, Prego’s Farmers’ Market® tomato & basil sauce is a great way to get that fabulous herb flavor out of season. You may know I’m not a huge fan of ready-made things, but this sauce is made with the kind of ingredients I’d find at the farmer’s market. Vine-ripened tomatoes, basil and garlic, each picked and made into this tasty sauce when they were in their peak.
The origins of pasta alla Norma
Pasta alla Norma is a traditional dish from Sicily, a place I’ve only been to for a couple days years ago but which I instantly loved. I hope to get back some time, especially now that I have learned and tried more Sicilian dishes, like the stuffed squid I made a few months back. It’s not entirely clear how the dish got it’s name – some say it’s because it respects ‘the norms’, others say it’s named after the opera called Norma written by a Sicilian composer. One thing is for sure, though, is it uses simple ingredients typical of Sicilian cooking and makes them into something delicious.
How it’s made
The Prego sauce makes this already easy pasta alla Norma even easier. I’ve made it more hands-off by roasting the eggplant rather than frying it as well – this also cuts down the amount of oil used. Once you’ve roasted the eggplant, you simply add it to the warmed sauce along with the cooked pasta then serve toped with some ricotta salata. Since ricotta salata can be hard to find, feta makes a good substitute. Lots of tasty flavors with hardly any work.
You’ll find Prego’s Farmers’ Market® sauces in the sauce/pasta aisle in Walmart, and if you take this coupon you can save when you buy it as well. You can also see more about Prego’s sauce here. Then pick up everything else while you’re there to make this tasty dish.
Pasta alla Norma makes a great go-to meal for busy nights. It’s an incredibly simple dish but it’s pleasantly filling and has great flavors. Tomato, basil, eggplant and cheese is such a winning combination, you are bound to love it as much as we did. And you can always use another easy pasta recipe, right?
- 1 large eggplant/aubergine (approx 1lb 2oz/500g)
- 2½tbsp olive oil (or a little more if needed)
- 1 jar Prego's Farmers' Market® tomato & basil sauce
- 1lb/450g pasta - you can use as you prefer, but I used rigatoni which works well
- 2oz/55g ricotta salata (or feta if not available)
- Preheat the oven to 400F/200C.
- Dice the eggplant into approx ½in/1cm dice by cutting it in to slices then cutting each slice into cubes. Put them on a baking sheet/tray or in a baking dish and drizzle over the olive oil. Try to drizzle lightly so you don't get a few cubes absorbing all the oil. Toss then bake for approx 20-25min until cooked. Turn them once or twice gently as they cook.
- Meanwhile, boil water to cook the pasta and cook it following the packet instructions.
- Drain the pasta then warm the tomato & basil sauce, add the pasta and cooked eggplant and mix well.
- Serve the pasta with a little ricotta salata/feta crumbled over the top.