Friday, October 14, 2016

Pumpkin Spiced Pasta ala Norma and the Weekly Menu

Last Saturday I posted about #MerlotMe with our #WinePW group.  I was given 4 bottles of wine from 3 different wineries who are sponsoring #MerlotMe all month long.  You can read more about them and the other wineries that sponsored our group by reading my original post that includes links to the others.  Several of us received Merlots from different wineries.  These wineries are merely trying to bring awareness to this wonderful and often misunderstood varietal.  I received no monetary compensation nor was I expected to do anything other than enjoy the wine I was given.

I chose to make 3 different meals to pair with one wine from each winery.  I shared my recipe for Busy Day Pot Roast  paired very well with the Liberty School Merlot.  I paired the J Lohr Cuvee with a Deep Dish Italian Chicken Pizza. It was a match made in heaven.  

The third wine was a Merlot from Duckhorn Wineries that I chose to pair with a pasta dish.  We were in the middle of packing for a move and after a full day, a wonderful bottle of wine and a delicious dinner I didn't have any energy left to post the recipe.  

We are settling into the new home now, albeit slowly, so I have time to share this recipe that I created after receiving some goodies from our daughter, Nicole and her husband, Pierre.  Nic had found this adorable pasta in pumpkin shapes and a pumpkin spice olive oil that she had found on a trip up north. Pierre brought me a gorgeous eggplant and some lovely tomatoes from his garden.

I wasn't sure how the pumpkin spice was going to fair in this dish but it was to die for!!  Pasta ala Norma is the name for a pasta dish that originated in Sicily and contains eggplants and Ricotta cheese.  It  is reportedly named for the Opera, Norma.  I think the pumpkin spice olive oil really added depth and richness to this dish but if you can't find any just use regular olive oil and it will still be delicious.

Pumpkin Spiced Pasta ala Norma

Pumpkin Spice Olive Oil, as needed
1 small eggplant, cut into 2" dice
4 tomatoes, halved
salt and pepper to taste
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c. basil leaves, coarsely chopped
1/2 c. Ricotta Cheese
1/2 c. shredded Mozzarella Cheese
1/4 c. freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
1 lb. Pasta, cooked per package directions

Toss the eggplant in some olive oil, season with salt and pepper.  Place in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Roast in a preheated 400* oven for 20-30 minutes until tender and starting to brown in spots. Once the eggplant is in the oven, place the tomatoes in a baking dish and drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and place in the oven with the eggplant for 15-20 minutes.  Remove both the eggplant and tomatoes from the oven and set aside.  Reduce oven heat to 350*.

Heat 2 t. olive oil over med high heat in a large skillet.  Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring, for a few minutes until onion is translucent.  Coarsely chop the tomatoes in the baking dish.  Add to the onions along with any collected juices. Stir in the eggplant and basil.  Add the pasta, toss to coat and turn into an 8x8" baking pan.  (I used the same pan used for the tomatoes.)  Place small dollops Ricotto in intervals over the pasta and lightly stir in, leaving some larger portions.  Sprinkle with the Mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.  Bake for 20 minutes, until hot and bubbly with cheese melted and starting to brown.  Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.  Print Recipe

Getting Back on Track with the Weekly Menu

Now that things have calmed down I am getting back on track with our Weekly Menu.  Next week I hope to get back on track with the FMD eating plan.  One step at a time.  The only thing that saved me with all the carry out and restaurant food this past week was that I was killing it in the exercise department..

Today, we have a retirement luncheon to attend so I am having a crockpot meal.  Tomorrow,  we are flying to Mackinac Island on a charity flight that Frank had donated.  We will be eating out.  Sunday, we are having Amy's birthday dinner.

Monday night, I have a meeting at church.  Nic and Pierre are coming by after work so we will have a late dinner with them.  The rest of the week will be spent unpacking and unpacking and unpacking.  I can't believe how much junk stuff we have.

Braised Chicken
Stir Fry Veggies
Brown Rice

Soup Saturday
Carrot Soup

Sunday- Amy's Birthday Dinner
Minestrone Soup
Caesar Salad
Spiced Rum Pumpkin Cake

Meatless Monday
Southwestern Spaghetti Squash Pie

Asian Wild Rice and Chicken Casserole

Meat Loaf
Mashed Potatoes

Oven Baked BBQ Pork Chops
Steamed Rice
Brussels Sprouts

Fish Friday
Pasta with Smoked Salmon


  1. Haha - I hear you about all that (ahem) stuff! When we sold our home and downsized, I couldn't believe all the junk we had to get rid of! I hope your unpacking goes smoothly. Merlot was my brother-in-law's favorite wine. Me, well, I could take it or leave it and usually leave it. I'm more of a white or rose drinker. Your recipe looks wonderful, but since eggplant and I don't agree, I probably will have to forgo this one.

    1. I think we still had stuff that I hadn't unpacked from the last move, nearly 20 years ago LOL

  2. Glad you move is going well (if a move can go well??). I love the sounds of this pasta, Wendy. I am even imagining a bit of pumpkin spice (ground) in the dish since I can't get that olive oil? Nutmeg would certainly be good in it!

  3. Your menu sounds really good. I have never seen pumpkin spice olive oil. I will have to look for it. Sounds amazing. Those little pasta pumpkins are adorable. I think they would be super cute in a clear vase too!

    1. What a great idea about showing them off in a vase. Too bad we ate them!:(


I enjoy getting comments and feedback from my audience. Please let me know what you think, keeping in mind that we are all entitled to our own beliefs and opinions. I am happy to hear yours as long as they are stated nicely.