Speghetti alla Norma | pasta with an eggplant sauce
Spaghetti alla norma is a quick pasta meal that uses eggplants to make a quick sauce for the pasta. One can use any pasta or even boiled pearl barley or buckwheat to make this dish and it will always be as tasty. The sauce has a rich creaminess due to eggplants and tomatoes and a rich bouquet of herbs if you use them fresh.
Pasta can be a great way to eat a lot of vegetables in a meal if you wish. I am not kidding. I cook pasta with almost any kind of vegetables but the classic Italian combinations are oft repeated recipes in my kitchen. This one with Eggplants and tomatoes is a Sicilian classic and works well with Indian palate as well. Don't we all like our squishy Eggplant mash, the Baingan ka bharta in it's various avatars? Just dress it up with some basil, Oregano and some cheese of your choice and see how it becomes the new Eggplant favorite of yours'.
If you like pasta and want to make something healthy once in a while, experiment with adding more vegetables, some meat or just soy nuggets as I do sometimes. Use pasta in minimal amounts and add some protein and loads of vegetables, it will be a nice filling meal that doesn't cause an insulin spike if you are concerned about that. Some 50-60 gm pasta per serving and around 300 gm or even more vegetable I use for myself. When using eggplants and tomatoes, you would not feel like a lot of vegetables as they sauce up very well to give you a creamy consistency.
about 100 gm spaghetti or other pasta ( I use whole wheat pasta)
2 medium sized eggplants weighing about 400 gm
3-4 tomatoes weighing about 400 gm
1 tbsp of finely chopped garlic
1 tsp of chilly flakes or red chilly powder of your choice
1 tbsp of Olive oil
1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
salt to taste
a handful of fresh basil (or dry) more the merrier
a few springs of fresh Oregano
Boil the spaghetti in a big pot of boiling salted water. As per instructions on the pack, or till al dante. Whole wheat pasta takes quite a long time to cook so it will be better to start boiling the pasta before you dig out for the vegetables in your fridge.
Normally the eggplants are cut in cubes, salted and rested, and then they are deep fried and drained on a kitchen tissue. Added in the pasta when everything is done. I do a quick pasta and skip the deep frying part.
Blanch the tomatoes a bit in boiling water and peel off the skin. Then chop them into small cubes. Keep aside.
Wash and chop the eggplants in bite sized cubes. They would get smaller and squishier when cooked.
Heat the Olive oil in a wide pan and tip in the finely chopped garlic in it. Let the garlic fry and turn pink and then add the cubed eggplants. Add salt to taste and toss to cook. Once the edges start getting pinkish brown, add the chopped tomatoes, red chilly flakes and chopped stem part of the basil leaves. A good handful of basil at this step will taste great.
This is the time to add the extra virgin olive oil too. Or you can add it while stir frying the eggplants as it quickens the process.
Cover and cook till the vegetables become squishy and saucy. Add the oregano springs and mix well. Adjust seasoning.
Check if the spaghetti is cooked by this time, it normally does. Strain the spaghetti and add to the cooked sauce and mix well.
Serve immediately with grated cheese on top. It can be Parmesan, Cheddar or a processed cheese of your choice.
Garnish with the remaining Basil and Oregano springs and serve hot.
Warm comforting meals are not that difficult to assemble.
If you just keep some chopped garlic in an airtight container, everything else would come together in just 20-25 minutes. Would be earlier if you are not using whole wheat pasta. That takes time to cook.
I have tried this recipe of pasta all norma with boiled pearl barley as well and that tastes great warm or cold. Could be a nice lunch box option for those need it.
Do you like eggplants too?