Pasta alla Norma with Sausage
Pasta alla Norma is typically a vegetarian sauce. I like to make mine a little heartier (and spicier!) by adding some spicy Italian sausage. You could, of course, skip the meat but I much prefer it.
1 pound spicy Italian sausage
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large eggplant, diced (about 3 cups)
1 Fresno pepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 teaspoons Italian chili paste (optional) or ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 pound pasta (I prefer cavatappi)
A bunch of basil
Parmesan cheese, for serving
Place the sausage into a mixing bowl. Add the wine and mix it into the meat with your hands; set aside.
Heat a large Dutch oven over high heat with the olive oil. Once hot, add half of the eggplant and cook, stirring occasionally until brown. Season with salt and remove to a plate. Add additional oil, if needed, along with the remaining eggplant. Brown and remove.
Add the sausage and cook until brown. Add the fresno pepper and garlic to the pot, and stir until just fragrant, about 1 minute. Season with salt. Add the tomato paste, crushed tomatoes and chili paste along with the reserved eggplant; stir to combine. Add a few sprigs of basil, turn the heat down to low and cook for 25-30 minutes.
While the sauce is cooking, bring a few quarts of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook to al dente.
Remove the basil from the sauce, add the pasta and toss to coat. Spoon into bowls and top with fresh basil and some parmesan cheese.