Pasta alla Norma is a typical first course of the Sicilian gastronomic tradition, particularly of Catania.
Made with a simple but irresistible sauce of tomato, fried eggplant, ricotta salata and basil, it encapsulates the flavors of summer and Sicily.
Now becoming famous overseas, it was made as a tribute to Norma, a famous opera by Catanese composer Vincenzo Bellini.
As with all traditional recipes, pasta alla Norma has endless reinterpretations that change depending on the area and family customs.
In Messina, for example, it is made with ricotta infornata, for a definitely sweeter end result. The most commonly used pasta format is rigatoni, but it is not uncommon to find preparations with spaghetti or penne rigate.
Eggplants can be fried diced, as proposed here, or sliced whole; they should be added only at the end, then sprinkled with plenty of grated cheese.
To prevent the eggplants from being slightly bitter, collect them in a colander, sprinkle with salt and let them drain for at least an hour.
If you prefer, you can use ripe tomatoes to make the sauce, which you puree before tossing with pasta.
Easy to make and very tasty, this Catania specialty is perfect to serve at a family lunch or a summer dinner with friends, accompanied by a glass of white wine.
- 3 eggplants
- 5 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
- 3 whole garlic cloves, halved
- hot pepper to taste
- can diced tomato
- salt as needed
- fresh basil
- salted dry ricotta cheese, but you may substitute with fresh ricotta cheese (wich i prefer)
- 1 lb. short pasta
- frying oil
- Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
METHODStart cutting your eggplants, make some thin slices that you will use to garnish your dish and cube the rest.Place a colander inside a bowl and the cut eggplants in the colander with some salt.Place something of heavy overy the eggplants and set a side.Start the tomato sauce.Place a large fry pan over medium heat, add the olive oil, garlic and red pepper.Sautee until the garlic starts to brown, do not over cook, add the can of cubed tomato, salt and basil leaves and cook a few minutes, stirring occasionally.Take the garlic out once the tomato sauce is ready.Wash the eggplants to take the salt off and pat dry with a kitchen towel.Heat the frying oil and fry the eggplant.Place the cooked eggplants on the kitchen paper towels to drain the excess oil.Start boiling the water.Once the water is boiling, add the salt and the pasta.Cook “al dente” and dain.Sautee the pasta with the tomato sauce and add the fryed cubed eggplants, sautee over medium heat, stirring.Serve your Pasta alla Norma placing the fryed slices of eggplants on the bottom of the dish (optional).Add the pasta and top everything with the ricotta cheese and freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.
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