Pasta alla Norma
Pasta alla Norma is a famous Sicilian dish originating in Catania and named after the famous opera 'Norma' as a tribute to the composer Vicenzo Bellini who was born in the city.
This simple pasta is made with very few ingredients so it is therefore essential that they are all fresh and of the highest quality. Choose small, dense and heavy aubergines, not large, light ones, and do nothing to them other than fry them in olive oil. The cherry tomatoes should be ripe but firm and should smell as good as they taste. The most difficult ingredient to find will be the ricotta salata cheese which is essential for the rich creamy taste of pasta alla norma. Try and find a specialist Italian shop as they are more likely to import it from Italy. Sometimes it is possible in larger cities around the world to find it in supermarkets but is not always authentic or of the highest quality. It is worth the effort to find this cheese but if all else fails use Parmesan (fresh, not the packets of grated Parmesan) with a little Feta cheese grated in to create a sharper taste.
- 350g spaghetti
- 300g aubergines
- Olive oil for frying
- 400g cherry tomatoes
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 150g ricotta salata, coarsely grated
- Cut the aubergines into rings and fry in olive until browned on both sides. Set aside.
- Skin the tomatoes and cut in half. Put 2 tablespoons of the extra virgin olive oil in a saucepan and gently heat before adding the peeled tomatoes, crushed garlic and salt and pepper. Simmer for around 20 minutes until the tomatoes are soft and juicy.
- About ten minutes before the tomatoes are ready put on a pan of water for the spaghetti and cook according to the instructions on the packet.
- Meanwhile, cut the fried aubergines into small pieces and return to the frying pan.
- Strain the spaghetti and mix with the remaining 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and the juice from the tomatoes.
- Quickly re-fry the cut up aubergine.
- Divide the spaghetti between four bowls and then spread a portion of the tomatoes on top. Sprinkle with the cheese before topping with the freshly fried aubergines.
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