Saturday, May 29, 2010

Amsterdam: Pasta alla Norma + Radish and Arugula Salad

(Recipe for two)

Lucas and I spent the morning at Amsterdam's Noordermarkt in Jordaan. I got there with a craving for pasta but I still wasn't entirely sure what kind of sauce to make. When I saw some eggplant at one of the stalls, the answer became obvious. I looooove eggplant and I looooove pasta alla norma. This dish is almost as simple as making tomato sauce, but it includes one extra step - either frying or roasting some eggplant. I usually roast the eggplant, but since we don't have an oven in our apartment here in Amsterdam, I fried up a small-medium sized eggplant (diced) in a little bit of olive oil instead. When the eggplant had softened after about 10-15 minutes, I remove it from the pan. Next, in the same pan, I added in a little more olive oil and 3-4 chopped up garlic cloves along with some chili (as much as you'd like, it really depends on how spicy the chili is to begin with because they can be veeerrry unpredictable).

Before the garlic turns brown, add in either a can of tomatoes or about 8 medium sized diced fresh tomatoes (you can remove the skins if you want by blanching them for about a minute. After blanching, the skins should peel off easily). I used fresh tomatoes but I did not remove the skins because I was lazy and I was not trying to impress anyone. We were drinking some red wine so I poured in about a glass full and let that boil off. I also had a little bit of thyme in the fridge so I threw in a sprig or two. Make sure to season with salt along the way. I let the sauce simmer for about 30-40 minutes and adjusted the acidity with some sugar when it was needed (depends on the tomatoes). When the sauce had reduced to a much thicker consistency, I added in the cooked eggplant and simmered the sauce for another 5-10 minutes. At this point, I removed the thyme stems and added in some fresh basil. I cooked the pasta until al dente and then mixed it in with the sauce.

For the salad - I haven't bought any vinegar here so I've been making salad dressings with lemon and olive oil. This time, I added in a little honey too. I sliced up a few radishes and tossed the salad together with a few handfuls of arugula at the last minute.

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