Making pasta in my Instant Pot has been my thing lately. I just love the fact that I don’t have to boil the noodles separately, and everything goes into one vessel, and within a few minutes it’s done. I’m trying to eat a little more vegetarian these days, not only for health reasons, but for the planet. I think if we could all do our part in cutting down on carbon emissions, farms included, it would make our world a better place to enjoy, especially for our kids, and grandkids.
Eggplant is the key ingredient in this pasta dish and the story on eggplant is that you need to cook it a bit first, before adding it to anything, otherwise it can taste rubbery. Pasta alla Norma was originated in Catania, Italy and has a tomato based sauce that nestles cubes of eggplant vibrantly, offering a delightful vegetarian meal. The handful of ingredients are simple, but when combined, taste meaty enough to satisfy anyone’s hunger for a great Italian dinner.
Ricotta Salata, is the traditional cheese sprinkled over the top of this pasta dish, but I went with whole milk Ricotta cheese, because it’s readily available for most, and I love the creamy consistency that you can spoon into every bite. This is one dinner that is done within 20 minutes, or less and tastes like you’re traveling around Italy in delight.
1 large globe eggplant or 3 smaller eggplants
1 white onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dried oregano
14 ounce can diced tomatoes
1/4 cup tomato paste
8 ounces dried penne pasta
1/3 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
salt & pepper
olive oil for cooking
- Remove strips of skin with a vegetable peeler around eggplant (no need to remove all of it). Dice eggplant into large chunks. Drizzle 2 teaspoons olive oil into pot, and sauté eggplant in batches, until soft and lightly browned. Remove eggplant and place in a bowl as it’s par-cooked, and set aside. *If pot get too hot, add a tablespoon of water in between batches to cool and continue cooking.
- Add 2 teaspoons more oil, and onion to pot, sauté for 2 minutes, scrapping eggplant bits up from bottom. Add garlic and oregano and stir. Add tomato sauce and tomato paste, cook for 1 minute.
- Add eggplant back into pot, along with pasta. Add 2 cups of water and stir to combine. Place lid on pot and cook on high pressure for 6 minutes. Release steam immediately.
- Stir pasta, and spoon into bowls. Top with dollops of ricotta cheese and sprinkle with parmesan. Enjoy!