Pasta Alla Norma

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Pasta Alla Norma
paired with Pine Ridge Vineyards Merlot
Serves 4-6

This fresh, summery pasta dish is the perfect vegetarian foil to our Merlot.

Pasta alla Norma
1 1/2 pounds globe, Italian, Chinese, or Japanese eggplants
Extra-virgin olive oil as needed (at least 1/3 cup)
Kosher salt
3 cloves garlic, minced
28-oz can peeled whole tomatoes, roughly chopped
Dry white wine
1 pound rigatoni, penne, or ziti
1/2 cup basil leaves, torn
Ricotta salata or pecorino romano, grated or shaved

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.

Trim the stems from the eggplants. If using globe eggplant, peel and cut into 1-inch cubes; if using smaller eggplants, cut lengthwise and then crosswise into 1/2-inch slices.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Cooking in batches to avoid crowding the eggplant, add the cubes or slices, season with salt, and saute until golden brown and soft, up to 10 minutes. Remove to a plate and cook the remaining eggplant, adding more oil as needed.

With a little oil still remaining in the pan, turn the heat down and saute the garlic until it becomes soft. Add the tomatoes and a splash of white wine, and season with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until fully broken down and soft, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta until al dente. While the pasta is cooking, add the eggplant to the sauce and keep warm. Drain the pasta and toss it with the sauce, adding the basil. Adjust the seasoning, sprinkle with ricotta salata, and serve.