Pasta alla Norma, The Wrong Way


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)
Olive Oil
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.

Super-Bowl Vegetable Hot Dish

Too much meat and rich food lately, thinking of the idea of a vegetarian Cassoulet.

Improvisation leads to the following:


Super-Bowl Vegetable Hot Dish

1 Cup Rancho Gordo Yellow Indian Woman Beans
Soak for a couple hours and cook with…
3 Garlic Cloves
4 Sprigs thyme
1 Bay Leaf

1 Head Cauliflower, broken down to florets
Salt and Olive Oil
Pecans, chopped
Roast in hot oven, remove, and toss with:
1 Clove Garlic, minced
1 tsp Hot Spanish Pimenton
1 TBSP Chopped Fresh Oregano
Dashes Sherry Vinegar

1 Bunch Tuscan Kale, washed, stemmed and chopped.
2 Cloves Garlic, chopped.
1 Anchovy Filet
1 tsp Tomato Paste
Red Chili Flakes
1 tsp Dry Marjoram
1 Cup Pomi Strained Tomatoes
1/2 Cup Chicken Stock
Saute Garlic briefly in hot oil. Add rest of ingredients and simmer until tender.

Tree Oyster Mushrooms
Salt and Olive Oil
Roasted in a hot oven.

Crumbled Feta Cheese

Bread Crumbs

Layer ingredients in a casserole dish: Beans, mushrooms, cauliflower, kale, feta. Repeat and top with bread crumbs. Bake in 350 degree oven until browned and cooked through.

Server with Warm Pita Bread.