“This dish is an interpretation of a classic Sicilian dish called Pasta alla Norma," says Spina restaurant executive chef Joe Marcus. "I put a healthy spin on it by using a whole-wheat pasta and going lighter on the cheese."
3/4 cup whole-wheat penne
7 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon extra-virgin oilve oil
1/4 eggplant, diced
1/4 white onion
3 tablespoons part-skim ricotta cheese
1/8 teaspoon crushed pepper
5 basil leaves, roughly chopped
1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 325 degrees. Wrap 5 cloves garlic in tinfoil with 1/2 teaspoon olive oil and salt. Roast 45 minutes or until golden-brown and soft.
2. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil on the stove and sauté eggplant until tender, about 10 to 12 minutes. Rub tomatoes, remaining 2 cloves garlic, and onion with a little bit of oil and place on a hot grill. Grill for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, turning as needed. Transfer to a blender and puree about 1 minute until tomatoes have a smooth, paste-like consistency. Set aside in small bowl.
3. Mix ricotta, crushed pepper, and salt to taste in a small bowl. Add pureed tomatoes to a pan over medium heat and cook 4 to 5 minutes until hot. Add roasted garlic and its juices, eggplant, and pasta. Shift pasta around the pan to coat with sauce. Just before serving, add basil and stir again. Place pasta in a bowl and add ricotta mixture in little dollops on top.