Pasta alla Norma in 20

Sometimes I don’t know whether Rachel Ray’s 30 minute meals concept is redundant or brilliant. Seriously, is a recipe that can be made in under 30 minutes that rare? Afterall, the show’s been on for years and they still haven’t run out of stuff to make. It’s not known for featuring molecular gastronomy, so much as the average dish. The everyday. Well guess what? A lot of really great meals take less than 30 minutes. This isn’t by design or to be special for the working woman with a family to feed. It’s just how much time they take.  A lot of really simple pastas, such as this one, take roughly 20 minutes if you can chop up an onion and small eggplant rather quickly. Some people are more adept at using knives, and it isn’t (shouldn’t) be a race. If you start boiling the water while preparing the sauce, it all comes together at roughly the same time. Pasta and sauce, done together, tossed together and served.

This is a southern Italian dish, named for the Bellini Opera, Norma. The reason being, as far as I’ve been able to find in my internet research, because it’s good. Like the Opera.

Pasta alla Norma

  • rigatoni or penne (100 grams per serving)
  • 1 small eggplant
  • 1 tin crushed tomatoes
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon capers
  • salt and pepper
  • pinch of chili flake
  • parmigiano reggiano, pecorino or ricotta salata (traditional)
Put a pot of salted water on to boil, covered. Meanwhile, dice a small eggplant, onion and some garlic. Salt and fry in olive oil until the eggplant is tender and the onion translucent and starting to brown. Add pureed tomatoes, pinch of chili and capers. Lower heat and let simmer while the pasta cooks. When the pasta’s al dente, drain and add to sauce to cook a minute or two. Sprinkle with cheese and fresh basil or other herbs. Serve immediately.