Spaghetti with Fresh Tomato, Eggplant, and Mozzarella

Spaghetti alla Norma

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Serves

    4

    as a main course

Appears in

This is a classic Sicilian pasta dish. Almost every restaurant on the island has it on the menu, each with subtle differences. Basically, it is a quintessentialy Italian combination of eggplant and tomato. Often the eggplant is fried before it is added to the sauce, but I prefer adding it raw and cooking it gently, covered, until tender. It has a sweeter flavor and absorbs less oil.

Total time: 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • pounds ripe tomatoes
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • 1 pound eggplant
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 6 ounces whole milk mozzarella
  • 10 to 12 fresh basil leaves

Method

  1. peel the tomatoes and cut them into ½-inch dice. Peel and finely chop the garlic.
  2. Put the olive oil and garlic in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. As soon as the garlic begins to sizzle, after 1 to 2 minutes, add the tomatoes and season with salt. Cook until the liquid the tomatoes release is evaporated, about 10 minutes.
  3. While the tomatoes are cooking, peel the eggplant and cut into ¾-inch dice.
  4. Fill a pot for the pasta with at least 6 quarts water, place over high heat, and bring to a boil.
  5. When the liquid from the tomatoes is evaporated, add the diced eggplant to the pan. Cover and cook until the eggplant is tender, about 15 minutes. Uncover the pan and, if the sauce seems watery, raise the heat and cook until it is reduced. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  6. Add about 2 tablespoons salt to the boiling water, put in the spaghetti, and stir until all the strands are submerged. Cook until al dente.
  7. While the pasta is cooking, cut the mozzarella into ¼-inch dice. Put the pan with the sauce over medium heat. Coarsely shred the basil (by hand or with a knife) and add it to the pan. When the pasta is done, drain it well. Toss it with the sauce and the diced mozzarella and serve at once.

Note

You can make the sauce through step 5 up to 1 day ahead of time. Store, covered, in the refrigerator and reheat before proceeding.

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