Classic pasta – Sicilian eggplant, tomato and salted ricotta (alla Norma);

I absolutely love classic pasta recipes, especially those based on a single ingredient, this is the foundation of simple Italian family cooking. Also using ingredients that are in season from your own kitchen garden adds tremendously to the flavor and quality of the dish; this classic Sicilian Eggplant pasta dish “alla Norma” which is named after the Opera “Norma” of Vicenzo Bellini; Is prepared with fried eggplant, diced tomatoes and shredded Salted Ricotta “Ricotta Salata” which can be purchased at specialty Italian food stores; Whilst I cooked this recipe with Paccheri pasta, It would combine equally well with Penne, Rigatoni or Spaghetti;

Ingredients;

Serves 5;

2 large eggplant

1 medium onion

1 large clove of garlic

1 cup of fresh basil leaves

1 small fresh hot chili or dry chili flakes

1/4 cup of Extra Virgin Olive oil

1/2 cup of refined olive oil for frying

500g Paccheri or pasta of your choice

2 x 400 grams cans of Italian diced tomatoes or fresh ripe diced tomatoes when in season

1 cup of shredded Salted Ricotta or Pecorino as an alternative if you cant find the Salted Ricotta;

salt/pepper

Preparation;

prepare the eggplants by slicing in 1cm round slices;

place the eggplant in a pasta colander and sprinkle each slice with salt;

leave for at least 20 min to allow for the bitter juice to drain from the eggplant.

wash the eggplant slice under fresh cold water and pat dry with a tea towel

add 1/2 cup of refined olive oil to a deep fry pan and heat the oil till quite hot;

add the diced eggplant to the hot oil and continue to fry until light golden;

line a large bowl with kitchen towel and remove the fried eggplant from the fry-pan allowing for some of the oil to drain off;

set the fried eggplant aside and keep warm for use later on;

slice the onion, garlic and chilli;

tip;

Add 5 liters of water to a stock pot and put over a high flame before you start making the pasta sauce; use hot water to speed up the cooking time;

Cooking;

using a 30cm deep fry pan, add the 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil to the pan and heat moderately;

add the onion, garlic and chili to the fry-pan and fry gently to allow the ingredients to release their aroma on medium heat, be careful not to burn the garlic;

add the Diced tomatoes to the fry-pan, season with salt and pepper;

add the basil leaves to the tomato sauce;

bring the diced tomatoes to boil, lower to a simmer;

add most of the fried eggplant to the sauce and keep at least 2 slices per serve aside to add to the top of the pasta;

cover the eggplant sauce with a lid and leave to simmer slowly whilst waiting for the pasta to cook;

in the meantime if the pasta water is boiling;

add two table spoons of cooking salt to the boiling water;

add the pasta;

be sure to stir the pasta a few times in the first few minutes so that it doesn’t stick together or to the bottom of the pot;

Cook for the time recommended on the packet; taste test the pasta in the last few minutes to ensure you don’t overcook the pasta;

drain the pasta in a colander and then add to the fry pan with the sauce;

stir the pasta through the sauce;

Serving;

Serve into bowls; add a few slices of sliced eggplant to each serve and then top with the freshly shredded Ricotta Salata;

img_0015

 

Enjoy with a glass of your favourite wine;

Buon Apetito;

 

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