Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tortiglioni alla Norma

Got the urge to make pasta dish tonight as a reward for running on the treadmill. Anything pasta related is usually a piece of cake but this is especially true with this dish. Normally I make rigatoni alla norma but mistakingly got tortiglioni at the store. Anything tube shaped (manicotti excluded) will work. Norma contains your basic tomato sauce with eggplant, basil, and mozzarella cheese.

Basic tomato sauce
1 can peeled whole Tomatoes with Basil
3 cloves of garlic (chopped)
few sprigs of fresh Basil
Salt and Pepper

1-2 Eggplants (peeled, small dice)
cut into eggplant width wise making little eggplant steaks (if you will)
salt these large pieces with salt
wait 3-5 minutes and remove the liquid from the dehydrated salt
cut eggplant steaks into small dice or whatever size pieces that you want to eat
turn on the oven to 375 f and roast for about 15 minutes or until golden. While the eggplant is roasting start the tomato sauce.

Put a medium sized pan on the stove top and turn the burner on medium. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil in your pan. You want just enough to coat the bottom of the pan. But truth be told you can't go wrong with EEO in Italian cooking. It's okay if you spill too much. I do it all the time.
Add the minced garlic and stir. You want to keep stiring the minced garlic because it can burn in a matter of seconds. If you burn it start over - burned garlic has a bitter taste that no one or sauce can hide.

As soon as the garlic is golden, add the liquid from your can of tomatoes. Then crush the whole peeled tomatoes in your hand one by one. It is easiest to do this inside the can or puree in a blender before hand. Either way works it really just depends on your personal preference. Make sure to get all the goodies from your tomato can. I even swish water in the can and add that "tomato water" into my pot. After the simmering it adds extra flavor. Add a few sprigs of the fresh basil. You can pull these out at the end since the flavor will go into the sauce.

Once the eggplant is done add it to the tomato sauce and let it merry while you cook your pasta. Take another pot (size depends on amount of pasta you're cooking) add water, bring to a boil, add desired pasta. Remove pasta when al dente and drain pasta in a colander. Add pasta in with sauce + eggplant. Toss in a healthy handful of shredded mozzarella cheese. Taste and add salt & pepper. Take some fresh basil, roll leaves, and cut into a chiffonade or just rip up the leaves and toss on top. Basil's my favorite herb.

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