A twist on pasta alla norma, a pasta made with cooked eggplant simmered in a spicy tomato sauce and topped with halloumi gently fried in olive oil.
Fried halloumi, that’s all you need to know. It’s salty and warm and firm and is exactly what this spicy eggplant pasta needed to take it to the next level.
This is a quick and easy dish that comes together surprisingly quickly for how robustly flavorful it is. This pasta is inspired by pasta alla norma, an eggplant pasta originally made by the Sicilians, typically topped with ricotta salata. Instead of using ricotta, I tried halloumi for a fancy spin.
I love fried halloumi in everything – tacos, pitas, even in fried rice (don’t knock it ’til you try it!) and I hope this inspires you to try it out.
Spicy Eggplant Pasta with Fried Halloumi
- extra virgin olive oil
- 1 8.8oz package halloumi, sliced into ¼-inch thick pieces
- 2 small Italian eggplants (or 1 large), halved lengthwise and cut into ¼-inch thick half moons
- salt and pepper
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 small red onion, diced
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes
- 1 pound pasta (penne, ziti, or rigatoni work great here)
- sliced basil, to garnish
- Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once oil is shimmering, add the halloumi and cook for 2 minutes per side or until nicely browned and slightly softened. Using tongs, transfer to a paper towel lined plate and set aside.
- Immediately add another tablespoon of oil to the pan and add as much eggplant as will fit in a single layer and season with salt and pepper.Cook until eggplant is browned, flipping occasionally, about 10 minutes.Transfer eggplant to a paper towel lined pate and continue with remaining eggplant and more oil until all is browned.
- Immediately add in the red pepper flakes, garlic and onions and cook for 5 minutes or until onions are translucent. Add the tomato paste and stir well to combine and then add the tomatoes by crushing them with your hands into the pan, stir, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and cook until liquid is sauce-like, about 10 minutes. Taste and adjust with salt, if needed.
- While tomato sauce cooks, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cooking pasta according to package directions. Once pasta is done, drain in a colander, reserving 1 cup of pasta water. Return the pot to the stovetop, add in eggplant and tomato sauce, and stir well to combine. Add pasta water if needed to make your desired sauce consistency.
- Chop the halloumi into 1” pieces. Divide the pasta into bowls, top with halloumi, and garnish with basil. Serve immediately.