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Pasta alla Norma
This classic Sicilian dish of eggplant and pasta in tomato sauce is said to take its name from a 19th century Bellini opera. The eggplant is usually fried before being added to the sauce, but we opted to roast it to concentrate its flavor and condense its porous texture. The eggplant is in the oven for about 30 minutes unattended; use that time to prep the other ingredients, cook the pasta and simmer the tomatoes to make the sauce. Ricotta salata is a firm cheese with a milky, salty flavor. Do not substitute fresh ricotta; a mild feta is a more appropriate substitute.
pound eggplant, peeled and cut into ¾-inch cubes
01Heat the oven to 475°F with a rack in the upper-middle position. Line a rimmed baking sheet with kitchen parchment. In a large bowl, toss the eggplant with 1½ teaspoons salt and 4 tablespoons of the oil. Spread in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet and roast until browned and tender, 30 to 35 minutes, stirring once.
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