I adore Italian food. The simplicity, the flavours, the history and how cooking really is a family affair. This Aubergine ‘Pasta’ alla Norma is my interpretation of the classic dish but instead of using pasta I use the aubergines as the ‘pasta’ creating a grain and gluten-free dish that is every last bite Italian.
Initially I wanted to spiralise the aubergines, this didn’t work but thinking of aubergine pasta made me think of Pasta alla Norma. A traditional Sicilian vegetarian pasta dish from Catania that every Sicilian grows up eating and according to legend is named after the opera Norma by Vincenzo Bellini.
I was determined to find a way to create aubergine ‘pasta’ so I tried peeling and slicing them into pasta sized strips and then roasting them in extra virgin olive oil. It worked. By peeling and roasting the aubergines they not only keep their shape but the process enhances their flavour and reduces any unnecessary olive oil use, which when creating an authentic Pasta alla Norma rich tomato sauce you can’t be shy of using.
So here is my Aubergine ‘Pasta’ alla Norma and whoever Norma was, I’d like to think she would whole heartedly approve of this grain free interpretation. And of course if you do feel like so pasta you can simply add some gluten-free pasta to this divine piece of aubergine heaven.
Aubergine ‘Pasta’ allA Norma
Quantities given serves 2 as a main course or 4 if you add gluten-free spaghetti as an accompaniment
- 2 x large firm aubergines
- 1 x onion finely peeled
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 x garlic cloves peeled and grated or finely chopped (1 would suffice but I am a big garlic lover)
- 1 bottle of passata 680g (preferably organic)
- 1 x table spoon of oregano
- 2 x tablespoon of finely chopped basil
- Maldon Sea Salt and Pepper to season
- 1 x pinch of chilli flakes
- A pinch per plate of grated ricotta or Parmigiano-Reggiano (Parmesan cheese) omit for vegan
- Pre-heat the oven to 180c, Gas Mark 4, 450f
- Gently heat some olive oil in a large pan and add the onion, gently fry the onion on a very low heat for at least 10 mins, stirring as much as possible until it is caramelised (very soft and brown)
- Add the onion and gently fry for a further minute. Then add the tomato passata bring to the boil then add a generous pour of extra virgin olive oil (4 x tablespoons or so) and then simmer for at least 25 mins
- Peel and slice aubergines in to thin strips approx 1cm wide and thick (see picture above) and coat in extra virgin olive oil (I pour the oil over the aubergines and then use my hands to ensure its evenly distributed across the aubergines)
- Roast aubergines in the oven for 20 mins
- Take the aubergines out of the oven and sprinkle with the oregano
- Mix the aubergines in with the tomato sauce and season with salt and pepper, add a pinch of chilli flakes and the finely chopped Basil
- Put in two warm bowls and if you eat cheese sprinkle with ricotta or Parmigiano-Reggiano. Enjoy.
Notes: This dish will keep well in the fridge for up to 2 days and will also freeze well.