Penne Alla Norma

Legend has it that this recipe was created as a tribute to the opera "Norma"; composed by Vincenzo Bellini, who was from Sicily, where this dish originated.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Yield Serves 4 to 6


1 pound penne
Coarse salt and ground pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 large eggplant, cut into 3/4-inch chunks
1 1/2 pounds plum tomatoes, cored and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup torn fresh basil, plus more for garnish
3/4 cup ricotta cheese


Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente, according to package instructions. Drain pasta; return to pot.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, and crushed red pepper; cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes.

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

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

Toss sauce and basil with pasta; gently reheat if necessary. Top each serving with a spoonful of ricotta, and garnish with more basil.