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MARIO BATALI Rigatoni alla Norma

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This Italian dish is delicious for Christmas Eve dinner!

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (plus more)
1/2 medium red onion (1/4-inch dice)
3 cloves garlic (sliced)
1 pinch red chili flakes (to taste)
2 medium eggplants (medium dice)
1 can whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes (28 ounces, crushed by hand)
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves (plus more to garnish)
1 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1 pound rigatoni
1/2 pound ricotta salata (coarsely grated)
1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves (roughly chopped)
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves (roughly chopped)
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bring 6 quarts water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons salt.
In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil until smoking. Add the onion, garlic, chili flakes and eggplant, and cook, stirring regularly until softened and lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, basil, and thyme, and bring to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Cook the pasta according to the package directions, until al dente. Drain well and add the hot pasta into the pan with the eggplant mixture. Remove from heat. Add ricotta salata and stir to heat through.
Garnish with parsley, mint, and basil leaves. Drizzle with olive oil and serve.
Tip: add just enough sauce to “dress” the pasta. Pasta should never be over-sauced!

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