Ingredients for Pasta Alla Norma
One clove garlic
Ten ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and diced
3 oz. aged salted ricotta, grated
1 lb. penne
Ten basil leaves
How to make the Pasta alla Norma with Eggplant and Basil:
It was a favorite by Catania’s Vincenzo Bellini, who wrote the opera La Norma.
Slice the eggplant and place on a cutting board propped on a slant, cover with salt and leave under a weight for one hour until the bitter water seeps out. Brown the garlic in oil, add the tomatoes and salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and continue cooking, occasionally stirring, until the sauce has reduced by 1/3. Add a pinch of pepper, remove from heat, and set aside.
Wash the slices of eggplant and pat dry; fry in hot oil, place on paper towels to dry, chop coarsely and set aside—Cook the spaghetti in a large pot of boiling salted water until just al dente and drain. Quickly toss in a large skillet, half of the tomato sauce, the eggplant, a few basil leaves, and half of the grated cheese over a brisk flame. Then put the pasta in the serving dish, cover with the remaining half of the sauce, the rest of the grated ricotta, sprinkle with a few more basil leaves, and serve.
Regional recipe from Sicily
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Pasta alla Norma (in Sicilian dialect pasta cu sucu di mulinciani, pasta ca sassa e mulinciani or pasta câ Norma) is a dish with typically Mediterranean flavors based on pasta; usually, macaroni, seasoned with tomato and with the subsequent addition of fried eggplant, salted ricotta cheese, and basil.
The recipe is attributed to the city of Catania, so much that it is the symbolic dish of Catania’s cooking. Many pasta variants with a sauce prepared with eggplants were indeed already spread in the whole of Southern Italy before the official birth of this Catania’s dish.
The origin of the dedication to Norma, which seems to be an explicit reference to the homonymous opera by Vincenzo Bellini rather than to a generic “norm” in the sense of a preparation done “a puntino,” is not absolute. There are at least two versions of the history of this dish considered more plausible. According to some, the name of the recipe came from the Sicilian playwright Nino Martoglio. In front of a plate of pasta seasoned in this way, he would have exclaimed: “It is a Norma!” He wanted to indicate its supreme goodness and compare it to the famous opera of Vincenzo Bellini, although many decades had passed since the creation of the same.
According to others, the recipe was perfected, reinterpreted, and developed based on traditional cuisine by a Sicilian chef on the occasion of the celebrations for the new opera of the great composer from Catania, destined to become in a short time one of his greatest successes despite a troubled premiere at La Scala in Milan and anything but encouraging. Perhaps it happened in one of the many receptions at which Bellini was present in his native land. It was always a relatively consolidated practice on famous chefs and organizers of events to pay homage to illustrious guests of honor with dishes created ad hoc.
Sicily is also widespread the pizza alla Norma, with the same ingredients as pasta condiment.
A ‘National Day of Pasta alla Norma’ is also dedicated to this traditional dish from Catania and Sicily, which falls on September 23.