Pasta alla Norma

Salt
1 large eggplant (1 1/2 pounds or so), peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch thin slices
Extra virgin olive oil for brushing on eggplant
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Fresh ground black pepper
6 ounces dried pasta
3 to 4 ounces ricotta salata, grated using the large holes on a box grater
10 to 12 large basil leaves, stemmed

1. Lightly salt the eggplant slices and stack, weighted down in a colander, for 30 minutes or so. Then rinse off the salt and squeeze the eggplant slices in a clean towel until dry. Brush each side of each slice lightly with olive oil, place on a nonstick cookie pan, and roast in 425-degree preheated oven for 10 minutes or until tender and starting to brown.
2. Sauté garlic in 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat for 30 to 60 seconds or until it starts to lightly color. Immediately pour in the canned tomatoes with their juices and season with the red pepper flakes and black pepper. Simmer over low heat until slightly thickened, about 20 to 30 minutes.
3. Bring well-salted water to boil and cook pasta according to the package instructions. Drain well.
4. To assemble dish, layer 1/2 of the pasta, 1/3 of the sauce, 4 basil leaves, 1/3 of the cheese. Then repeat. Top the dish with the slices of eggplant, remaining sauce, remaining cheese and remaining basil. Serve.

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