The best thing about spaghetti alla norma? The eggplant mixed with the ricotta cheese, of course! Take a break from your classic tomato sauce pasta, and venture into the world of veggies! This is an easy recipe you'll never get bored of.
1 large aubergine, cut into medium dice
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 x 400 gram tin of san marzano tomatoes, drained and roughly chopped
Large handful basil, divided
150 grams spaghetti/bucatini
For the pangrattato
100 grams stale breadcrumbs
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
½ - 1 teaspoon chilli flakes, depending on how spicy you want it
Zest of ½ a lemon
Grated ricotta salata, to serve
Mix the diced aubergine and salt together in a large bowl then put into a sieve and place over a bowl or the sink and leave to sit for 30 minutes.
Heat the oven to 230 C / 210 C.
Rinse the aubergine in cold water, then dry with kitchen paper and cover with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Toss to combine, add to a tray, then bake in the hot oven for about 15 - 20 minutes until nicely golden.
Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoon of the oil in a saucepan set over a medium heat and add the garlic. Cook for a couple of minutes, then add the tomatoes and half the basil (leave the basil on the stalk as you will need to remove it later) and bring to a simmer. Turn down the heat and cook slowly for about 20 to 30 minutes until thickened and smelling delicious.
To make the pangrattato, place the last 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a frying pan and add the breadcrumbs, garlic and chilli flakes, frying until the breadcrumbs turn golden. Tip into a bowl and allow to cool slightly then add the lemon zest and tear in the remaining basil.
Once the sauce is almost ready, cook the pasta in plenty of boiling salted water according to the packet instructions. Add the aubergine to the sauce and discard the basil. Drain the pasta and toss in the sauce with about 25 millilitres of pasta water, then divide between plates. Sprinkle with the pangrattato and finally sprinkle with the ricotta.