“Meatless Monday” – Penne Alla Norma

So here we are, our first “Meatless Monday”! This past weekend when I was making my shopping list, I was trying to think of what to make. I have SO many cookbooks, the result of shopping while hungry, that I decided to start looking there. I bypassed the cookbooks without pictures, because I need to know that what I’m making ends up resembling what it is supposed to. The cookbook that I chose was one of my most recent acquisitions, but I probably have about another 100 that are still boxed away waiting to be unpacked. So, Saturday morning, I’m thumbing through this cookbook salivating at all the wonderful pictures until this one caught my eye. With the tomatoes, pasta, basil, and ricotta cheese so beautifully displayed, I knew that I had to make this. Oh, did I forget to mention that I hadn’t eaten yet? Regardless, it still looked just as good even when I wasn’t starving. So, Monday, on my way home from work, I was getting excited to try our new adventure. My husband was also kind of getting into it, in fact he offered to help and cut the onion and tomatoes for me. This recipe didn’t take long to prepare, only about 20-25min, which after a long day at work, is always a plus for me. This morning before leaving for work, my husband brought up how he really liked dinner last night. Who knows, he may start looking forward to Meatless Mondays.

PENNE ALLA NORMA

  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 lb penne rigate
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 teas crushed red-pepper flakes
  • 1 large eggplant, cut into 1/4-inch chunks
  • 1-1/2 lb plum tomatoes, cored and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup water, plus more as needed
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed torn fresh basil leaves, plus more for garnish
  • 3/4 cup ricotta cheese
  • Bring a pot of water to a boil; add a generous amount of salt. Cook pasta until al dente according to package instructions. Drain pasta; return to pot.

    Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium. Add onion, garlic, and red-pepper flakes; cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, about 5 minutes.

    Add eggplant; season generously with salt and pepper. Cover, and cook until eggplant begins to release juices, about 5 minutes. Uncover, cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 3 to 4 minutes (if mixture begins to brown too much on bottom of pan, add up to a few tablespoons water, and scrape up bits with a wooden spoon).

    Add tomatoes, tomato paste, and 1/4 cup water; cook, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes are softened, about 5 minutes.

    Add tomato mixture and basil to pot, and toss with pasta; briefly reheat over medium-low if necessary. To serve, divide among bowls; top each with a dollop of ricotta, and garnish with additional basil.

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