Penne alla Norma

INGREDIENTS

1 pound penne rigate

Coarse salt and ground pepper

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced

4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1 large eggplant, cut into 3/4-inch chunks

1 1/2 pounds plum tomatoes, cored and cut into 1/2-inch chunks

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1/2 cup torn fresh basil, plus more for garnish

3/4 cup ricotta cheese

METHOD

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente, according to package instructions.

Drain pasta; return to pot.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, and crushed red pepper; cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes.

Add eggplant to skillet; season generously with salt and pepper. Cover, and cook until eggplant begins to release juices, about 5 minutes. Uncover; cook, stirring, until tender, 3 to 4 minutes (if bottom of pan browns too much, add a few tablespoons water, and scrape with spoon).

Add tomatoes, tomato paste, and 1/4 cup water to skillet; cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes.

Toss sauce and basil with pasta; gently reheat if necessary. Top each serving with a spoonful of ricotta, and garnish with more basil.

Chef’s Note

Crushed red pepper adds spice to this dish. Vary the amount according to taste.