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Sicilain Pasta alla Norma

Sicilian Pasta alla Norma

Course Main Course, Main Dishes and Wine Pairings
Cuisine Italian
Keyword Sicilian Pasta alla Norma
Servings 4
Author adapted from "Six Seasons" Joshua McFadden

Ingredients

  • 2 medium globe eggplants ( about 1-1/2 lbs total) cut into 1/2-inch-thick rounds, each cut across to make 1-inch square pieces
  • kosher sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
  • 1 lb. Italian mild sausage, bulk or casings removed
  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes, cut in half if large
  • 2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves
  • 1 teaspoon Piment d' Espelette
  • 1 lb. rigatoni
  • 1 cup Parmesan, finely grated

Instructions

  1. Put the eggplant pieces in a colander and sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of kosher sea salt. Toss. Set aside for 1-2 hours, this will draw out the excess moisture. When you are ready to sauté the eggplant, spread the pieces out on a tea towel or paper towel and blot off the moisture and salt. Give them a gentle squeeze to remove any remaining moisture.

  2. Heat 1-2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil in a 12-inch sauté pan over medium heat. When the oil is warm, add the garlic and sauté for about 3 minutes or just when it starts to turn a light golden color.

  3. Add the Italian sausage to the pan, breaking it up into small pieces as the the meat browns. When the meat is browned, remove the sausage with a slotted spoon.

  4. If the pan looks dry, add another 1-2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Increase the heat to medium-high and add the eggplant pieces in a single layer (this will take several batches to cook). Sauté the eggplant stirring and tossing to brown all the sides. Cook until they are golden and tender, about 8-10 minutes per batch.

  5. Add the tomatoes, oregano, and Piment d' Espelette, salt and pepper. Sauté stirring until the tomatoes start to break down and a juicy sauce develops. Add the browned sausage back to the pan and stir to combine.

  6. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil and add 2-3 good pinches of salt. Add the rigatoni and cook 1 minute less than what the package recommends. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water.

  7. Drain the pasta and add it to the eggplant mixture. Stir and cook for another 1-2 minutes to combine. Add half of the parmesan cheese and stir. If the mixture is too dry stir in a little pasta water.

  8. Serve with remaining parmesan cheese and freshly ground black pepper.