Don’t get me wrong, we consider every recipe we post to be a personal triumph of taste. But occasionally we make something that is so… extra, that I find my usual superlatives and synonyms aren’t enough.
So I turn to CB, who if not a wordsmith is certainly concise and certainly not a wallflower when it comes to her opinions:
“This is the best pasta I’ve ever had in my life. Including in restaurants. Including in Italy. …Even if it is vegetarian.”
Those that know her and her critical nature will understand what a compliment that is. So good is this dish that I arrived home last week to find her groaning in discomfort – she’d chowed down two portions in a single sitting.
You’ll first realise what you’ve let yourself in for when the mouth-watering smell of the aubergines frying in their simple oregano-based seasoning hits your olfactory system. The second hint will be when you can’t stop eating the aubergine straight out of the pan.
Make this today to save a life. NO SUBSTITUTES.
Pasta Alla Norma
*You want to fry the aubergine in a single layer and not overcrowd the pan. For us, and the size of our pan, this means a batch per aubergine. You can knock 10 mins off the time this takes if you’re making it for 2, or using 2 pans at once.
- 2 aubergines
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 bunch basil
- 3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp chilli flakes (we recommend Bart)
- ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp capers
- 1 tin plum tomatoes (400g)
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 320g wholewheat spaghetti (the wholewheat adds a lovely nutty flavour)
- 50g pecorino
- Cut the aubergine roughly into 2cm cubes. Put them in a colander along with a good sprinkling of salt. Stick the colander in the sink and leave for 20 minutes to draw out the aubergine’s moisture.
- Meanwhile, finely chop the garlic, separate the basil stalks (save the leaves for later) and finely slice.
- When the aubergines have had their time, pat them dry with kitchen roll and transfer to a bowl. Add 1 tbsp of oil to a frying pan and heat it up while you finish seasoning the aubergine. Back to the aubergine bowl, add a tablespoon of the olive oil, along with the oregano, chilli flakes, and season with salt and pepper. Mix well.
- Once the oil in the frying pan is hot enough, add enough aubergines to make a single layer (don’t overcrowd). Fry on a medium-high heat for 8-10 minutes until soft. Rinse and repeat with a second batch if needs be, transferring the already cooked aubergine to a bowl.
- Add the final tbsp oil to the frying pan, along with any of the cooked aubergine (if you’re cooking in batches), the garlic, capers and basil stalks. Cook for 2 minutes, or until the garlic is golden.
- Stir in the tomatoes and red wine vinegar, breaking the tomatoes gently with a back of a fork. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 mins.
- After 10 minutes, put the spaghetti on for 8 minutes (i.e. the pasta water should be boiling in the pan before the 8 mins commences). Use this time to grate the pecorino.
- When your 8 minutes are up, drain the spaghetti – adding a cup (240ml) of the pasta water to the frying pan – and add it to the frying pan along with half the pecorino, and half of the basil leaves roughly torn. Mix well.
- Divide between 4 bowls and top with the remaining basil and pecorino.