A simple gluten-free and vegetarian pasta dish with a robust, savory flavor! Tender eggplant, a tomato sauce base, fresh basil and ricotta salata work together for an easy dish with unreal flavor.
Pasta alla Norma
Fresh, Flavorful, and Unbelievably Delicious!
This is one of husband’s and my favorite pasta dishes!
We both love eggplant and order this dish out at restaurants often. We also make it at home often and love that our kids now love it too!
The crazy thing is that we make this so often and I can’t believe I’ve never shared it here before!
It’s such a simple dish but has the most amazing robust, savory flavor.
Tender eggplant (we used the last of last week’s farmer’s market finds today) in simple tomato sauce base, tossed with gluten-free pasta, and topped with fresh basil and ricotta salata.
All you need is 10 pantry staple ingredients including all the seasoning…
Fresh eggplant, a container of chopped or crushed tomatoes (we like Pomi brand), extra virgin olive oil, garlic, anchovies (don’t freak out! They are mashed up and add the best flavor!), crushed red pepper, kosher salt, fresh basil, ricotta salata and your favorite gluten-free pasta.
Here with used Banza Rigatoni but I am linking to a recent blog post Our Favorite Gluten-Free Pastas so you can see what else we love.
We love the flavor in this dish–
The eggplant is tender, hearty and almost caramelized, the crushed red pepper adds a bit of heat, the anchovies and garlic season the sauce to perfection, then topped with fresh basil and salty ricotta salata, it melt in your mouth delicious!
And it is one of the easiest pasta dishes to make.
One key to the flavor is to cut the eggplant and let it sit in a strainer with kosher salt for about 30 minutes while you do other things.
The salt draws the moisture out of the eggplant so it absorbs less oil when you saute the eggplant and it helps make the eggplant extra tender and mild in flavor.
After this, the dish comes together really quickly!
First, you saute the eggplant until tender and browned (just about 10 minutes).
Then set it aside while you saute the anchovies, garlic and crushed red pepper, add tomatoes and let sauce thicken for about 10 minutes.
Then you add the eggplant and fresh basil to the tomato sauce while the pasta cooks.
Remember to reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water before draining the pasta to thin the sauce if needed. Then put the cooked pasta back into the pot, add sauce mix together.
Serve into bowls. Top with fresh basil and ricotta salata and enjoy!
Hope you love it as much as we do!
Scroll down for recipe and leave a comment if you try.
A simple gluten-free pasta dish with robust savory flavor! Tender eggplant, a simple tomato sauce, crushed red pepper, fresh basil and salty ricotta mix together for the most unbelievably delicious sauce! Pair with your favorite gluten-free pasta and enjoy! NOTE: Prep time includes, letting the eggplant sit in a strainer with salt for 30 minutes. You could skip if in a rush but the eggplant may absorb more oil when sauteing it.
Author: Healthy Gluten-Free Family
Recipe type: Pasta, Dinner
Cuisine: Gluten-Free, Vegetarian and Vegan optional
Serves: 3-4 servings
4 cups for eggplant, skin on, cut into ½ inch - 1 inch pieces (approximately 1½ lbs)
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 anchovy fillets
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (more to taste but this is the right amount of spice for our family)
1 750g (26.46oz) container Chopped Tomatoes (we use Pomi brand)
¼ cup fresh basil, chopped
extra salt and crushed red pepper to taste
1 8 -12 oz box gluten-free pasta (here we used Banza rigatoni)
Fresh basil, chopped
3 oz Ricotta Salata , shredded (approximately ¼ cup or more per serving)
Place cubed eggplant in a strainer and toss with kosher salt. Let sit for 30 mins. The salt will draw out the moisture from the eggplant so that it doesn't absorb as much oil when sauteing and making it more tender and milder in taste.
In a large, deep saute pan (you will make the sauce in the same pan), heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium high heat until shimmering, not burning. Add eggplant, saute, stirring frequently for approximately 10 minutes or until tender and browned. If eggplant is sticking to the pan, add a touch more olive oil.Turn off heat and transfer eggplant to a plate and set aside.
Let skillet cool a few minutes and wipe clean of any residual eggplant if desired.
If you have excess oil from the egpplant, you can use that oil. Otherwise. heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat until shimmering, not burning. Add garlic, anchovies and crushed red pepper flakes. Using a wooden spoon gently saute and stir all while mashing/ breaking up the anchovies, approximately 2-3 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Simmer, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes till well combined and thickened.
Meanwhile, boil pasta water so that you can cook pasta when the eggplant goes in to the sauce.
Add sauteed eggplant to the tomato sauce. Stir to combine and let cook 5 minutes for flavors to meld.
Stir fresh basil into sauce. Let cook an additional few minutes.
Taste and season with additional salt and crushed red pepper to taste.
Cook pasta al dente or to taste, reserving ½ pasta water before draining
Place cooked and drained pasta back into the pot it was cooked in. Add sauce to the pasta and toss to combine adding reserved water as needed to get desired consistency.
Serve into bowls, top with fresh basil and ricotta salata. Enjoy!
Hi! My name is Karen, and I’m the mom in our Healthy Gluten-Free Family. My posts and pictures here and on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter are labors of love that allow me to share a very personal journey with you, one our family has taken together — learning, experimenting and sharing how to raise a healthy happy gluten-free family. Read more ...