A Diva's Delight
Pasta alla Cugina di Norma
1 large eggplant - about 1 pound or larger
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
salt and pepper
1 large shallot, peeled and finely diced
pinch red pepper flakes
1 pound grape tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons tomato paste
6 ounces white wine
12 large basil leaves, chopped
4 three-inch sprigs oregano, chopped
12 ounces spaghetti
4 ounces feta cheese
Place a baking sheet in the oven and preheat to 400°F.
Remove stem end from eggplant and slice into 3/4-inch slices. Cut the slices into approximately 3/4-inch cubes, and place them in a large bowl. Drizzle with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat.
Remove baking sheet from oven and line with parchment. * Place eggplant cubes on the parchment in one layer and bake for 30 minutes, tossing occasionally.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Place a large skillet over medium-high heat and add remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add shallot and cook until clear. Add tomatoes and cook about 5 minutes, until they are softened and are releasing their juices.
Add tomato paste and cook 30 seconds. Add white wine - a little at a time - and stir into the paste and tomato halves. Let cook until thickened. Add the chopped herbs, mix well, and remove from heat.
About 10 minutes before eggplant is done, salt the boiling water well and add the dried pasta. Cook until al dente (about 10 minutes) and strain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water.
Put pasta into the sauce along with roasted eggplant. Toss well adding pasta water a little at a time to make it the right consistency.
Serve immediately in warmed bowls, topped with crumbled feta cheese.
Makes 4 servings.
* Parchment is much better for roasting vegetables because, unlike on foil, the vegetables will not stick, and will brown nicely.