While we can’t get our Itallian getaway due to the global pandemic, we can atleast channel the inner Italian in us with a heap plate of pasta. Yes, our dinner serves 4 with less than £10 and is “Pasta alla Norma with Eggplant, Basil & Pecorino”.
This dish is made with tomatoes, basil, eggplant, and ricotta salata – a pressed and aged ricotta cheese. The meal is very satisfying, easy to make with a total of 1hr prep time, and the best thing about this meal is that it’s also vegetarian. So let’s get cooking.
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1-inch strips of 1 large eggplant
Freshly grounded black pepper and Kosher salt
1 thinly sliced of sweet onion
3 peeled and crushed garlic cloves
One can of 28-ounce crushed tomatoes
1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes
¾ teaspoon of dried oregano
1 pound bite-size of dry rigatoni or macaroni pasta
¼ cup of chopped fresh parsley
¼ cup of chopped fresh basil
½ cup of grated pecorino or ricotta salata cheese
1. Add the eggplant strips in batches in a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat and cook ensuring they’ve been flipped on both sides until golden brown. Season the eggplant with salt and pepper and set aside in a large plate.
2. Add onion using the same saute pan and fry for about 4 minutes until tender. Then add the garlic and sauté for about a minute or two until fragrant and set aside too.
3. The next step is to pour out the tomatoes using the same pan, stir and bring to a simmer. You can now add the crushed red pepper flakes and oregano, season with salt and pepper and cook for approx 15 to 20 minutes until the flavour of the sauce develops and the sauce is a little bit thickened.
4. Now our pasta, add the pasta into a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat for approx 10 to 15 minutes, when cooked/tender, drain and set aside.
5. Finishing the meal, add the pasta and eggplant to the tomato sauce, stir them or toss them for a proper mix, then add the parsley, basil and pecorino or ricotta salata and stir them in. Food is ready to serve.
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