Pasta alla Norma is one dish I always ate on my travels in Sicily. Here I've tried to recreate it as best as I can.
As soon as I finished making my melitzanoslata recipe, I quickly went to work on using up the remainder of my overabundant eggplant supply.
So I made pasta alla Norma.
A Sicilian classic
If you thought my previous creation was simple, then this is even simpler. It can be on the table in approximately thirty minutes!
If you're not familiar with this dish, then let me do a little explaining.
It's a pasta dish that uses eggplants, tomatoes, garlic and olive oil. A fair bit of olive oil as a matter of fact!
A dish native to Sicily, it's said to be named after Bellini's opera Norma. I ate it everywhere on my recent trip to Sicily.
Eating it numerous times - not once did it disappoint!
It was like perfection on steroids!
The presentation might have differed a little, but the core ingredients were always present.
Making Pasta Alla Norma at home
For my version of pasta alla Norma, I used spaghetti. That's what I had hiding in my pantry.
I chose to chop up the eggplants in even-sized chunks. You could also slice them into rounds and use them that way. I also made use of fresh tomatoes which are just at their peak now.
If you have canned tomatoes, it's not an issue. Go with those. And please don't be afraid of the olive oil. The eggplants will act as a sponge absorbing that olive oil as you fry them. A little more for the sauce is mandatory.
Finally, if you can get hold of ricotta salata use that to garnish your pasta alla norma. It's a pressed, salted and dried form of ricotta cheese. It's the traditional cheese used for this Sicilian classic.
Pasta Alla Norma
- 2 eggplants, chopped into even chunks
- 1 tablespoon salt
- ½ cup olive oil, (to fry the eggplant)
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 400 g tomatoes, freshly chopped
- 1 tablespoon basil, freshly chopped
- ¼ cup ricotta cheese, (ricotta salata is preferred )
- 250 g pasta, cooked spaghetti or penne
- Sprinkle the salt over the eggplant, place in a colander over a sink or bowl. Leave for approx. 1 hour. Drain the excess liquid, rinse the eggplant and pat dry. Set aside.
- Heat ½ cup olive oil over medium heat. Fry the eggplant in batches until browned. Drain on paper towels.
- Add ¼ cup olive oil to the same pan. Add the garlic and allow to fry a little. Add the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Allow the tomato mixture to cook for 10-15 mins ensuring to stir continuously.
- Finally add the cooked eggplant to the tomatoes, stir and cook for a further 2 mins.
- Toss the pasta through the eggplant mixture. Garnish with basil and top with grated ricotta salata cheese.