Cooking

A taste of Sicily – Pasta alla Norma

Welcome back!

Do you also enjoy pasta? As an Italian, I am used to eat pasta at least once a week, if not almost every day.

This is one of the most famous pasta dishes in Catania – the city on Sicily next to the Etna. The origin of the name is unclear. We know that “è na Norma” in Sicily refers to something great or awesome. It is said that Nino Martoglio, a Sicilian comedy writer, uttered this expression upon enjoying a plate of pasta with aubergines.

Another story claims that this dish was created to praise Vincenzo Bellini and the name is taken from his famous lyrical opera “Norma”.

In my every day life, this is one of the dishes I make most frequently, especially if I do not know what to cook or whenever I feel too lazy to cook something “fancy”.


Ingredients (4 people):

2 big aubergines
2-3 cloves of garlic
800 g peeled tomatoes
1 bunch fresh basil
salt
pepper
olive oil
salted ricotta (if you cannot find it, you can go for some Pecorino Romano)
500 g Spaghetti (or your favourite shape of pasta, like penne or fusilli also works)

  1. Start by cutting the aubergines in dice, cut a few in slices (these will be used as decoration later on). Salt them and put them in a colander into your sink. Leave them for approximately one hour. The longer you leave the aubergines, the faster they will cook and the softer they will get, because the salt is draining the excessive liquid.
    Remember to wash the aubergines before you proceed, otherwise they’ll be incredibly salty.
  2. In a frying pan heat up enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Fry your aubergines until soft and set them aside. In the same pan, add some more oil – not as much as before – and cook the peeled tomatoes with the crushed garlic, salt and pepper and some basil leaves. Cook until the tomatoes dissolve into a thick and smooth sauce. If needed, you can add some water.
  3. In the meantime, cook your pasta in boiling water with salt and drain when al dente.
  4. Reduce the heat and add your aubergines. Keep aside the sliced aubergines, since you will be using them as decoration in a minute. Mix and add some salt or pepper if needed. Add also more basil leaves. Add the pasta and cook on low heat for a minute or two, in order to mix the sauce with the noodles well. Be careful not to overcook it, otherwise the pasta gets soggy.

Serve immediately. Decorate with the sliced aubergines and with some basil leaves. Serve with grated Ricotta Salata.


Pasta alla Norma
Pasta alla Norma

You can even eat this the next day, if you have leftovers! And don’t forget to scoop up any remaining sauce with a slice of bread or some leftover old bread.

Buon Appetito!

Love,
Raffi

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