Pasta alla Norma.

According to legend, this classic Sicilian aubergine and tomato pasta was named after the opera ‘Norma’ by Sicilian composer Vincenzo Bellini, both opera and recipe being perfect examples of their genres in the estimation of the locals, and who would argue? It can be made with any ricotta, but the true gourmet would use the slightly sour Ricotta Salata that is unique to Sicily. 

Ingredients:

1 large aubergine.

6 ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped[1].

¼ cup olive oil.

3 cloves garlic, chopped

Salt & pepper to taste

1 cup shredded basil.

2 cups pasta.

½ cup ricotta, grated[2]

Method.

Dice the aubergine into cubes[3] about the size of the end joint of your thumb, sprinkle with salt and allow to sit for 1 hour. Peel and chop the tomatoes and set aside. Place a pot of salted water on a hot flame. Heat the oil in a sauté pan over a hot flame. Rinse the aubergine cubes under cold water and fry them, turning often, until browned. Remove from the pan and reserve.

Add the garlic to the sauté pan and cook for 1-2 minutes until golden, then stir in the tomatoes. Add salt and pepper to taste, reduce heat and simmer for 6-8 minutes; add the basil for the last 3 minutes. Add the pasta to the pot of boiling water and cook as required.

Add the aubergine and the pasta to the tomato sauce and stir though. Serve on hot plates sprinkled with half the cheese; serve the remaining cheese on the side. 

Serves: 2. 


[1] Or 1 400g can diced tomatoes.

[2] If you cannot get ricotta, parmesan is a reasonable substitute. Come to that, it is all a matter of taste; edam cheese is as good as anything.

[3] Some would have it that the aubergine should be peeled first, but I rather like the bright colour.

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