This traditional Sicilian dish takes full advantage of two of Summer's best offerings - tomatoes and eggplant.
Here is a healthier and quicker version of Bittman's take on Pasta alla Norma.
1 1/2 pounds eggplant (choose smaller eggplants with smooth, shiny skin and firm to the touch)
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
3 or 4 dried chiles, optional
1 pound tomatoes, chopped
1 teaspoon flavorful dried oregano or 1 tbsp fresh oregano leaves
1/2 pound long pasta (I used perciatelli)
1/2 cup chopped parsley or basil
1/2 cup grated ricotta salata (preferred), Parmesan, or pecorino Romano
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.
Wash and slice the eggplant about 1/2 inch thick. Mix the eggplant slices with olive oil until well-coated and spread out on baking sheet; season with salt. Bake the eggplant until nicely browned and soft, flipping occasionally. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta.
Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and chiles, and cook until the garlic turns a little golden. Add the tomatoes, oregano, some salt and pepper; cook until saucy, stirring occasionally.
Cook the pasta until tender. While it’s cooking, cut the eggplant into strips and add to the tomato sauce. Drain the pasta and toss it with the sauce. Then top with parsley or basil and grated cheese and serve.