06/16/2013 AT 2:45 PM ET
Want to dine like the stars? Chef Simone Panella from Brooklyn hot spot Antica Pesa – where the celeb clientele has included A-listers like Madonna, Michael Douglas and Tom Hardy – shares a summer pasta dish for you to wow your guests with.
Pasta Alla Norma
2 large eggplants, sliced in ¼-in. slices
½ cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup olive oil
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 celery ribs, diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 (28-oz.) can plum tomatoes, chopped
½ tsp. sugar
6 basil leaves, chopped
1 (16-oz.) package rigatoni pasta
3½ oz. ricotta salata, grated
1. Sprinkle eggplant with 1 tbsp. salt. Place in a colander, cover with a weighted plate, and let stand at room temperature 20 minutes. Rinse eggplant and pat dry.
2. Coat eggplant slices in flour. Cook in batches, using 2 tbsp. oil for each batch, in large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, turning once, 3 to 5 minutes until golden. Set aside. Repeat with remaining eggplant.
3. Cook onions, celery, carrots and ½ tsp. salt with remaining olive oil in large skillet over medium heat, 10 to 15 minutes or until golden. Add tomatoes and sugar, and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 45 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in basil.
4. Cook pasta in large Dutch oven until al dente according to package directions. Reserve ½ cup cooking water; drain pasta and return to Dutch oven.
5. Add half of eggplant to sauce; cook over low heat 3 to 5 minutes. Add sauce to pasta, adding reserved pasta water if needed. Garnish with remaining eggplant slices and grated ricotta salata.