Pasta alla Norma hails from the Catania region in Sicily, comprising aubergines, tomatoes and ricotta. The best part is, you can even make your own fresh fusilli pasta.
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In this case, there is no anecdotal or historical story to tell other than it is thought to be named after the opera Norma, composed by Catania-born composer Vincenzo Bellini.
I've said it before and will say it again. The often overlooked yet versatile aubergine doesn't feature nearly enough on British plates. Here are three ways to utilise it:
- Melitzanosalata: as a starter as a dip
- Brinjal Bhaji: a vegan side dish
- Moussaka: a meaty casserole
Here we make use of it as part of a pasta sauce. Unless its skin is blemished there appears little point to peeling the beautiful ingredient. Slice it in rings, chop it roughly, cut it in any shape you please.
For years there has been a raging debate whether to salt it before cooking in order for it to absorb less oil. Salting might help reduce the bitterness of older aubergines but for it to become less absorbent a quick zap in the microwave will help to collapse its spongy structure.
If you grow your own tomatoes, use them! If not, don't buy the lacklustre flavoured tomatoes at the greengrocer but use canned tomatoes instead for a better and intense flavour. In the latter's case the sauce with have a thicker consistency as well, clinging to the pasta better.
Traditionally, ricotta salata is meant to be used but alas, tried as I might, I couldn't find it at my local shop and resorted to using parmesan instead. Another alternative is feta or pecorino. Whatever you do, don't tell the Sicilian in your life what you've been up to because the last thing you need is the Mafia on your case.Print
Pasta alla Norma
- Total Time: 50 minutes
- Yield: 4 1x
Pasta alla Norma hails from the Catania region in Sicily, comprising aubergines, tomatoes and ricotta.
- 2 large eggplants, cut into cubes
- 5ml (1 tsp) sea salt
- 45ml (3 tbsp) olive oil
- 2 cans chopped tomatoes
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed
- 5ml (1 tsp) chilli flakes
- 5ml (1 tsp) dried oregano
- 60g (2oz) ricotta salata
- 300g (10oz) dried pasta, cooked
- Lightly sea salt the aubergine in a colander and leave for 20 minutes.
- Drizzle the olive oil over the aubergine and mix.
- Place the aubergine in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake at the highest setting until cubes are browned and soft. Remove and leave aside.
- Place the tomatoes in a pot with the garlic, chilli and oregano. Simmer gently for 20 minutes until sauce has thickened and flavours absorbed. Season to taste.
- Add the aubergine and pasta and stir vigorously to give latter the tomato coating.
- Divide into portions and top with grated cheese.
If you can’t find Ricotta Salata, use feta, pecorino or parmesan instead.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Category: Main Course
- Method: Simmer
- Cuisine: Sicilian
- Serving Size: 552.7g
- Calories: 478
- Sugar: 4.8 g
- Sodium: 300 mg
- Fat: 14 g
- Saturated Fat: 7.9 g
- Carbohydrates: 67 g
- Fiber: 7 g
- Protein: 13 g
- Cholesterol: 38 mg
Renil M. George
Super yummy pasta.