Pasta Alla Norma Sorta
Say “ciao” to your new pasta alla Norma. This updated version of the Sicilian classic includes prosciutto, which is fried until golden. Its rendered fat is used to start the dish and provide a rich, nuanced flavor, and the cooked bits are used to finish it for a salty crunch. To save on time, the eggplant roasts while a quick sauce of cherry and canned tomatoes, shallots, garlic and chile comes together on the stovetop. Just before serving, the eggplant, pasta and mozzarella (in place of the traditional ricotta salata) are tossed together until melty and delicious. Some rules are worth breaking.
- Serves: 4 persons
- Kosher salt
- 10ounces mezzi rigatoni or rigatoni
- 1 ½pounds eggplant, unpeeled, cut into 1/2-inch dice
- ¼cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Black pepper
- 3ounces prosciutto, roughly chopped into 1- to 1 1/2-inch pieces
- 1medium shallot, thinly sliced into rings
- 3garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1fresno or serrano chile, seeded, if you like, and thinly sliced into rings
- 1 ½pounds Sun Gold, cherry or grape tomatoes
- 1(15-ounce) can diced tomatoes and their juices
- 4ounces fresh mozzarella, finely chopped
- 1cup roughly chopped fresh herbs, such as basil and mint
- Flaky salt, for serving (optional)
Step 1Heat the oven to 425 degrees. On a large rimmed sheet pan, toss the eggplant with 1/4 cup olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Spread everything evenly in one layer and roast until golden, 25 to 30 minutes, flipping halfway through to ensure even browning.
Step 2While the eggplant roasts, make your sauce: In a deep, 12-inch skillet, heat the remaining olive oil over medium. Add the prosciutto and cook, stirring occasionally, until it begins to crisp and brown in spots, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from skillet and place on a paper towel-lined plate.
Step 3Add the shallot, garlic and chile to the pan and cook, stirring frequently, until the shallot has softened and the garlic is fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the cherry tomatoes and cook until they start to burst, pressing the tomatoes gently down with the back of a spatula or wooden spoon to help them along, 5 to 7 minutes. You want some of them to collapse and some to maintain their structure. Stir in the diced tomatoes with their juices and season with salt and pepper. Simmer while the eggplant finishes roasting, about 15 minutes more. If the sauce appears dry, add 1/4 cup pasta water.
Step 4While you're making the sauce, bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package instructions until al dente. Reserve 1 cup pasta cooking water, then drain pasta.
Step 5When the eggplant is done, add it to the tomato sauce and stir to combine. Add the pasta and toss until everything is well coated with sauce, adding more pasta water if needed. Stir in the mozzarella and toss until it begins to melt.
Step 6Serve in the skillet or in bowls and top each portion with crispy prosciutto and fresh herbs. Season with flaky salt, if using.