I discovered this dish casually, a really fortunate casuality since it quickly became one my favorite comfort foods. It’s actually a pretty simple recipe with just a few ingredients like tomatoes, eggplant and mozzarella. But, as it often happens with simple recipes, it turns out to be bold and delicious.
I remember when my dad used to tell me stories about his military years and when he and his mates went out to dinner together and ate a huge tray of “pasta alla Siciliana” so called “pasta alla Norma” with tomato, eggplants and cheese which I bet it was Ricotta Salata (aged salted Ricotta) as per the traditional recipe.
Then one day I found in one of my food magazines a recipe that recalled this famous “pasta alla Siciliana” my dad always talked about, so I tried it out. This is not the traditional pasta alla Norma where the eggplant is fried and then added to the flavorful tomato sauce with a generous quantity of grated Ricotta Salata on top. This is a flavorful eggplant and tomato sauce with a cheesy addition of melted Mozzarella.
I well remember my dad’s face at the first bite. Memories, melacholy and joy all mixed together at the single taste of long lost flavors. Useless to say that since then this recipe became a usual and a favorite of mine.
The mozzarella will melt and blend with the eggplants and tomato sauce making it incredibly creamy and yummy (kind of like pizza) and the eggplants will be soft and will infuse the sauce with their delicious flavor.
If you like simple Spaghetti recipes, you should also try these Spaghetti with Garlic, Chili oil and roasted cherry tomatoes.
How to clean the Eggplant
Eggplants or Aubergines are a delicious vegetable, slightly bitter with a soft meat and a dark thin skin.
The skin doesn’t become much softer with the cooking and although it’s totally fine to eat, I recommend to peel half of it in alternated stripes with a potato peeler, just to make the sauce more pleasant to eat.
The bitter taste of the eggplants will fade during the cooking, so I don’t usually give the eggplant any salt treatment (also because I like the slight bitterness). But if you want to make it milder and sweeter, Cut the peeled eggplant in thick slices and add them in a bowl. Add a good amount of salt on the slices and put a heavy plate on top to press them.
Let them rest for a couple of hours, then you’ll find a lot of water on the bottom of the bowl. Wash the slices to remove the salt and dry them with a towel. The eggplant will now be sweeter but a little bit saltier, so be careful with the seasoning of the sauce.
Spaghetti with Eggplant and Mozzarella sauce
- 180 g (5oz) Thick Spaghetti
- 1/2 medium Eggplant
- 1 can Peeled Tomatoes or Tomato Purèe
- 1/2 White Onion
- 1 Mozzarella
- EV Olive Oil
- Black Pepper
- Chop the onion and eggplant into small cubes then add them to a large pan with a drizzle of olive oil. Fry until the eggplant absorb all the oil, then season lightly with salt and black pepper.
- Add the tomatoes, fill half of the can with water and add it to the pan as well. Mix well with a spoon and break the tomatoes every now and then until they become a smooth sauce.
- Turn the heat to low and let it cook at least 15 minutes. If necessary add a pinch of sugar to balance the tomato acidity and season again with salt and black pepper to taste.
- In the meanwhile bring a large pot of water to boil and add a punch of salt when it starts to bubble. Toss the pasta in when the sauce is halfway through the cooking.
- When the pasta is almost ready (al dente) drain it and add it to the pan with the sauce. Mix well together so the pasta will start to absorb the flavors and add the mozzarella chopped into cubes.
- Stir thoroughly for a couple of minutes, until the mozzarella is completely melted and blended in the sauce.
- Serve immediately.
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