Penne rigate alla norma, AKA penne pasta with aubergine and ricotta cheese, is one of the most well known Italian dishes.
Penne alla norma is a truly authentic Italian dish, therefore like all pastas it’s traditionally a starter (but we’ll be enjoying at every opportunity!). Created in Catania, on the east coast of Sicily, this pasta dish is supposed to made with fresh ricotta and vegetables for a burst of mediterranean style and flavours.
When people buy an aubergine, they’re often at odds with what to do with it. Many people make curries, but then are stopped short when they have extra supply of this meat-like vegetable. It’s been a staple in vegetarian cooking for decades for exactly that reason, it’s meaty qualities make it a perfect substitute for heavier meats like steak. So if you’re looking to add more vegetables to your diet and perhaps swap out some meat then this is a great way to start doing it.
Penne alla norma is a truly classic meal, so we make ours with Barilla pasta and pair it with a glass of red wine – for the true Italian taste experience!
- 350g Barilla Penne Rigate
- 80g ricotta salata (aged salted ricotta)
- Half small onion
- 5 basil leaves
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 medium aubergine
- 300ml can crushed tomatoes
- 4 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Half clove garlic
- Oil for frying as needed
Dice eggplant, season it with a pinch of salt and set aside for about 20 minutes to purge any bitter juices.
Dredge in flour. Heat enough oil in a pan over high heat to completely cover the eggplant. Fry aubergine until golden, remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
Chop onion and garlic. Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat and sauté onion and garlic. Add aubergine crushed tomato, salt and pepper and cook for about 15 minutes.
Boil the pasta according to package directions, then drain the pasta and toss with the aubergine sauce. Garnish with grated ricotta and basil. Serve hot.
Top tip for making Penne alla norma
Instead of sautéing the aubergine, you could bake it for a healthier alternative to the classic way of cooking penne alla norma