Pasta alla Norma

Pasta alla Norma

Pasta chi Milinjiani a Catanisi

 

This recipe originated in  Catania , a city on the eastern side of  Sicily  that sits on the shadow of  Mount Etna .  Catania  is a city subjected to the temperament of  Mount Etna , the highest and only active volcano in  Europe

Earthquakes and volcanic eruptions have destroyed this city several times. Yet the city has managed to rebuild. It is a vibrant and modern metropolis, with wide streets and majestic palaces; ancient monuments reminiscent of the Greek and Roman occupation and contemporary buildings where the enterprising people of Catania live and work to make it the most industrious and energetic city of Sicily.
It is called Pasta alla Norma in honor of Vincenzo Bellini, who composed the opera Norma in 1831.

The chef who created this dish wanted to honor Bellini, but he also wanted to immortalize Mount Etna. The spaghetti and the fried eggplants were the mountains, the tomato sauce portrayed the lava and the grated ricotta salata, the eternal snow of the Mt. Etna

 

Serves 4

 

 

Fusilli alla Norma

 

Ingredients  

  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil     
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced     
  • 1 can of 14 oz. Italian peeled tomatoes, cut in small pieces with juice     
  • ¼ cup basil leaves chopped     
  • 3 Italian eggplants cut into cubes, sprinkle with salt and place in colander for 30 minutes     
  • 1 cup olive oil for frying      
  • 1 lb. spaghetti or your preferred pasta  
  • ½ lb. grated aged Ricotta Salata cheese (if you cannot find it, use a mild aged feta cheese)     
  • 12 whole basil leaves for garnish      
  • Salt and pepper to taste     

Preparation

 

The Sauce
Over a medium flame, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a 12 inch sauté pan.
Add diced onions and sauté until golden, about 5 to 7 minutes.
Add tomatoes, raise heat to high and cook for an additional 3 minutes stirring occasionally.
Add chopped basil, salt and pepper to taste.
Lower the flame and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the sauce is thick.

The Eggplant
Pat dry the eggplants with a clean dish towel or paper towels.
Fry the cubes in 1 cup of olive oil. Place fried eggplants on paper towels to drain the oil and set aside.

The Pasta
Cook pasta according to package directions, reducing recommended cooking time by 2 minutes.
Drain pasta well and put back in pot.
Toss in one cup of tomato sauce and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil used to fry the eggplants.
Mix for 2 minutes on a low heat or until pasta and sauce are well combined.

 

 

 

Serving Suggestions
Plate individual portions of pasta, add a spoonful of sauce, a helping of eggplants, and cover each plate with ricotta salata.
Garnish with basil leaves and serve immediately. 

 

Note If you want to substitute fresh vine ripe tomatoes, prepare as follow:

Rinse well 2 ½ lb. of tomatoes and boil for 5 minutes.
When cooled to the touch, peel, cut in half, remove seeds and dice.