Created in the eastern Sicilian city of Catania, Pasta alla Norma is quintessential Sicilian cuisine. Why Norma? Legend has it that Italian writer Nino Martoglio was so impressed by the dish that he exclaimed, "Chista è 'na vera Norma!" (This is a true Norma!), in honor of Vincenzo Bellini's opera of the same name.
While the recipe may vary depending on the household, the core ingredients of this classic remain the same: eggplant, basil, tomatoes and a wonderfully salty ricotta salata. Mangiamo.
PASTA ALLA NORMA
Prep time: 25 minutes | Cook time: 30 minutes | Serves 4
▢ 2 tbsp Biancolilla Centinara Olive Oil
▢ 1 tsp Oregano Flowers
▢ Sicilian Sea Salt with Basil
▢ 1 box Penne or Rigatoni Pasta
▢ 1 eggplant (approx: 1.5 lb)
▢ 1.5 lbs of vine ripe or plum tomatoes
▢ 1/4 tsp Sicilian Chili Pepper Flakes
▢ 1/4 tsp dried parsley
▢ 2 cloves garlic, minced
▢ Fresh basil
▢ Ricotta salata (if unavailable, sub with pecorino romano)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice the eggplant into cubes, about 3/4 inch thick. Put in a colander and salt the eggplant to remove some of the water. Let sit for 20 minutes.
- Slice tomatoes about 1/2 inch thick and remove seeds. Dice into half inch cubes.
- Rinse salt from eggplant and pat dry. Put on baking sheet and drizzle with 1 tbsp Biancolilla Centinara Olive Oil.
- Sprinkle Oregano Flowers on eggplant. Mix around to ensure eggplant is well coated with oil and Oregano Flowers. Roast eggplant for 25 minutes.
- Bring pot of salted water to a boil. Add Penne pasta and cook for 7 minutes.
- Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and saute for 1 minute.
- Add tomatoes carefully. Sprinkle with Sicilian Sea Salt with Basil, Sicilian Chili Pepper Flakes and parsley. Cook for about 3 minutes, long enough to bring the tomatoes just past their rawness.
- Add roasted eggplant and Penne to tomato sauce. Mix for about two minutes until Penne is well-coated with sauce.
- Serve pasta topped with fresh basil, a drizzle of Biancolilla Centinara and shaved ricotta salata cheese. Buon appetito!