Pasta alla Norma is named after the opera “Norma” from the Sicilian composer Vincenzo Bellini. The dish is also called sometimes “Catanese” from Catania, city of the composer. Spaghetti can be used, but more often rigatoni or similar short pasta.
Pasta alla Norma is a vegetarian dish. The ingredients are a typical mix reminder of sunny Sicily. The combination is a succulent rich and wholesome dish.
Ingredients for 4 people:
- 1 pound rigatoni
- 2 large eggplants
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic
- 12 San Marzano tomatoes pulp chopped
- 8 ounces ricotta salata
- 15 fresh basil leaves
- salt pepper
* Coarse salt
* Oil to fry eggplants
Slice eggplants and put them in a colander in layers. Place a plate under the colander. Sprinkle each layer with coarse salt. Cover eggplants with a flat plate, inverted to rest on them. Then sit a heavy weight on top of the plate. Let for about two hours. Because of the salt, eggplants will release a dark bitter liquid.
Rinse slices with water and pat them dry. Then fry them turning them over until golden, about 2 minutes. Put eggplants on paper towel. Pat them dry from oil and set them aside.
Put the 6 ounces of olive oil in a deep pan large enough to toss the pasta later, and fry garlic to a golden color. Then add tomatoes and basil torn in pieces by hand. Add salt and pepper and cook at low heat for about 10 minutes. Last, add about half of the eggplants and let them flavor into the sauce for about 2 minutes. At this point remove garlic cloves.
Pour the cooked and drained rigatoni into the pan with the sauce and mix. Grate some ricotta on the pasta and mix again.
Serve pasta. Decorate plates with some eggplant slices, some basil leaves and sprinkle some more grated ricotta on each one
Note: The preferred eggplants for pasta alla Norma are the so called Tunisian eggplants, the purple color. You can cut eggplants slices perpendicularly or horizontally. Ricotta salata can be found in a good supermarket. It’s a salted dried up ricotta. Some like to mix small cubes of mozzarella in the hot pasta. It’s not in the recipe, but it doesn’t degenerate the dish.
More Italian Pasta Recipes from Italy’s Regions