The other day at work one of the cooks (Yo Josh!) made a delicious side dish for our staff meal. It was Kale dressed with puree of roasted eggplant and curry flavors.
When I saw Bittman’s boring revisit of Pasta alla Norma in the NY Times (A Recipe for Pasta Alla Norma, Mark Bittman’s Way), Josh’s eggplant puree came immediately to mind. I like the components of Pasta alla Norma, but why not dress the pasta with a sort of Eggplant Pesto?
Our late season dry farmed cherry tomatoes are plenty sweet without roasting, feta is more interesting than ricotta salata, and everything is better with a little bacon.
Pasta alla Norma, The Wrong Way
1 Eggplant, roasted and somewhat cooled
2 Cloves Garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
1 Tablespoon fresh Oregano Leaves
1/4 cup Toasted Pine Nuts (reserve a few for garnish)
Salt and Pepper
1 Cup Cherry Tomatoes, halved
2 Tablespoon fresh Mint Leaves, thinly sliced
Salt & Red Pepper Flakes
Splash Olive Oil
Splash Balsamic Vinegar
Feta Cheese, crumbled
Bacon, Cooked and crumbled
1/2 Pound pasta
Heat a pot with enough salted water to cook a half pound of pasta. When it comes to a boil, cook your pasta.
Roast Eggplant in a hot oven (or on a grill) until tender. Peel Eggplant and add to a blender (or food processor) with garlic, oregano, pine nuts. Start pureeing, and add olive oil as you go. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Combine Cherry Tomatoes, Mint Leaves, Salt, Pepper Flakes, Olive Oil, and Balsamic Vinegar. Toss to combine.
Dress pasta with some of the Eggplant puree, loosening with salted pasta water as necessary. (You will probably have too much eggplant puree, but hey, stir in some tahini and you’ve got baba ghanoush!) Plate and make an indentation in center of pasta. Add Tomato ‘salsa’ and sprinkle on Feta, Bacon, and reserved pine nuts.
Serves 2 as a main dish.