Sometimes eggplants are cheap at the store, and I buy them. And then I think, "what the hell am I going to do with this crap?" Well, here's something fast, easy, loaded with fresh summer produce, and almost impossible to screw up (have someone else make the pasta for you if you can't deal). And do you want to know the best part? It is supposedly named for the opera Norma by the Sicilian-born composer Vincenzo Bellini. (PS--both are delicious.)
Pasta alla Norma
I tablespoon olive oil
1 small eggplant, cut into 2-inch chunks
1 small onion, sliced into half-moons
1 small red bell pepper, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
3 garlic cloves, minced
8 large roma tomatoes (or equivalent), roughly chopped
2 tablespoons capers
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons salt
Handful fresh basil leaves, torn
Hot pasta or rice and ricotta or cottage cheese for serving
In a large skillet, heat the oil on medium-high heat. Add the eggplant, onion, and red bell pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until very brown. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the balsamic vinegar, scraping up any brown bits in the skillet.
Stir in the tomatoes, capers, red pepper flakes, and salt and cover, simmering until tomatoes have broken down and the whole thing looks like a chunky sauce. Stir in the basil, remove from heat, and serve over hot pasta or rice, with the cheese available for stirring into individual portions.