Pasta Alla Norma

  • Serves: 4
  • Preparation time: 30 minutes
  • Cooking time: 30 minutes
  • Total time: 1 hour

Ingredients

  • 500ml/17 fl oz tomato sauce
  • 400g/14 oz Garofalo Mezze Maniche
  • 200g/7 oz salted ricotta (A 50/50 mix of parmigiano and pecorino romano can be used as substitute)
  • 150ml/5 fl oz olive oil
  • 12 fresh basil leaves
  • 2 medium aubergines/eggplant
  • 2 shallots
  • 2 garlic gloves
  • 20ml/⅔ fl oz extra virgin olive oil
Pasta Alla Norma

This Pasta Alla Norma recipe was written by Sara Danesin, a Finalist in the 2011 MasterChef UK TV programme.

Pasta Alla Norma is a classic Sicilian recipe blending the flavours of aubergines, tomatoes, basil and ricotta. The term Norma seems to refer to the lady who developed the dish to a standard which was deemed as high as Bellini’s opera “La Norma”.

Preparation

Slice the aubergines width-wise, and sprinkle them with rock salt as you layer them to ‘sweat’ in a colander. Place a weight on top of the colander and allow at least half an hour for the excess water to drain from the aubergines. Pat the slices dry afterwards and fry them in olive oil.

Rest the fried aubergines in absorbent paper and slice in strips (½cm/¼in width).

Method

  1. Slice two shallots and sauté in a pan with 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, add the tinned tomato and let the sauce reduce to a jam like consistency.
  2. When the tomato sauce is ready, add the aubergines, mix well, add the finely chopped basil and the grated ricotta (or parmesan /pecorino). If the sauce is a little too dense, add – before the cheese - half a ladle of boiling water and mix well.
  3. To cook the pasta, use a large capacity pan and bring to the boil 4 litres of water, add salt and then the pasta.
  4. Drain the pasta and plate up by pouring over the sauce, and sprinkle with a little parmesan.
According to a 5th century Chinese scroll, fashionable Chinese women used to make a dye out of the skin of purple aubergines and polish their teeth with it until they were a shiny gray.

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