Pasta alla Norma is one of those great classic Italian recipes that’s simple and healthy. Its basic embellishments are eggplant, onion, garlic, and basil. It’s quick, too — in the time it takes to boil the water and cook the pasta, the sauce is started and finished. Be generous with the red pepper flakes if you like a little spice to your pasta dishes— they really give the flavor a boost. Serve with a colorful salad to which chickpeas are added for extra protein.
- 10 to 12 ounces pasta, any shape, preferably whole grain
(this is good both with long pasta like spaghetti or
chunky shapes like penne or rotini)
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 medium or 2 smaller eggplants, sliced ½ inch thick then diced
- 1 medium onion, quartered and thinly sliced
- 3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 28-ounce jar of your favorite full-flavored marinara sauce
- Dried hot red pepper flakes to taste
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Fresh basil leaves, whole or sliced, as desired
- Vegan Cashew or Almond Parmesan-Style Cheez, optional
In a large pot, cook the pasta according to package directions in plenty of rapidly simmering water until al dente, then drain and return to the pot.
Meanwhile heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet or steep-sided stir-fry pan along with ½ cup water. Add the eggplant, stir together, and cook over medium heat until it’s tender but still holds its shape. Remove to a plate or bowl.
Heat the remaining oil in the same pan. Add the onion and sauté over low heat until translucent. Add the garlic and continue to sauté until both are golden.
Add the eggplant back to the pan along with the marinara sauce and cook over medium heat until piping hot.
Combine the eggplant and marinara mixture with the cooked and drained pasta in the cooking pot. Add red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper to taste.
Stir in as much fresh basil as you’d like. Serve at once, passing around the vegan Parmesan for topping individual portions, if desired.