ROASTED PASTA ALLA NORMA
Savour Sicilian cuisine with our roast pasta alla norma. A perfect celebration to all that wonderful end-of-summer produce – in our twist to this beloved classic, we roast all the ingredients to enhance the flavour of the delicious tomatoes and aubergine whilst enabling a second twist. Traditionally pasta alla norma is topped with ricotta salata, but this salted ricotta can sometimes be a little tricky to get hold of, so we instead opt to bake creamy ricotta to a firm yet luscious finish for added luxury. Elevate your pasta night with the enchanting flavours of Sicily.
THE ALLA NORMA
1 Large Aubergine,
6 Large Tomatoes, ideally Roma
1 Head of Garlic,
½ tsp Chilli Flakes,
1 Small Bunch of Basil, roughly chopped
Generous Pinch of Salt and Pepper
210g Rigatoni, or similar
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
PREPPING THE AUBERGINE
- Cut the aubergine into small planks roughly the same size as the pasta you are using. For rigatoni i usually cut them into little bricks about 1cm x 1cm x 3cm
- Place the aubergine pieces in a large sieve or colander, and season generously with salt. Leave to stand over a plate or in the sink for 30 minutes. This will help to draw out any bitter juices from the aubergine.
THE ROASTED ALLA NORMA
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC (Fan).
- Place the Ricotta on a small square of baking parchment with a drizzle of olive oil and set in the centre of a very large baking tray. Cut the garlic head in half so that you slice through all of the cloves. Drizzle the two halves with olive oil and then wrap in baking parchment and add to the baking tray.
- Place the baking tray into the oven and roast for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven.
- Drizzle the baking tray with a little bit of olive oil. Slice the tomatoes length-ways and season generously with salt before placing them cut-side-down on one side of the baking tray.
- Rinse the salted aubergine and pat dry before arranging on the other side of the baking tray. Drizzle the olive oil over the aubergine and add a pinch of pepper, making sure the aubergine is evenly covered. Return the tray to the oven and roast for a further 30 minutes or until the aubergine is cooked through and tender, the tomatoes are softened with slightly blistered skin and the ricotta starting to colour.
- Leave to slightly cool for ten minutes before starting the pasta
COOKING THE PASTA
- Cook the Pasta in heavily salted water according to the cooking instructions until al dente. Likely about 10 minutes.
ASSEMBLING THE ALLA NORMA
- Whilst the pasta is cooking, remove the skins from the tomatoes and transfer the cooked tomato to a large serving bowl.
- Squeeze in the cooked garlic and add the chilli flakes. Crush the cooked tomatoes and garlic with a fork until a reasonably smooth yet rustic sauce is made. You can also use a stick blender or food processor to speed this process up if you prefer. Add the cooked aubergine into the tomato sauce and stir through.
- Making sure to retain some of the cooking water, drain the pasta and add to the pasta sauce with a splash of the pasta water.
TIP – I usually remove a few ladles of pasta water into a bowl before draining the pasta to ensure a good amount of the cooking water is retained.
Mix through the pasta and sauce until the pasta is entirely coated. You may need to add a splash more of the cooking water to ensure a loose and glossy sauce. Season to taste.
- Crumble over half of the baked ricotta and garnish with plenty of basil. Serve immediately with the remaining baked ricotta.