There's only few things in life that beat the excitement of new beginnings. I'm planning to extend my activity on a pop-up basis to more European cities, I will keep you updated on that veeery soon. While I spend my entire days between my consulting bustle and the tedious filling of bureaucratic schedules for my next destinations, I've been lately getting to the comfort of crunchy eggplants. These wonderful vegetables are now in season more than ever, having diuretic and anti-cholesterol proprieties. Before making any use of this gorgeous food, I usually get rid of their bitter water by way of letting them rest for 20 mins. in a colander with rocky salt and a weight on top. No one wants soggy eggplants in their fabulous meal. Pasta alla Norma is a dish of macaroni topped with tomatoes, with the subsequent addition of eggplants (fried or grilled), salty ricotta and fresh basil. This dish is originally from the Sicilian city of Catania, in which dialect is better known as Pasta ca' Norma (Pasta with Norma). It would seem that to give the name of the recipe has been a well-known playwright who, in front of a well seasoned dish, had exclaimed: "It 'a Norma!", to indicate the supreme goodness, comparing it to the famous opera by Vincenzo Bellini.
PASTA ALLA NORMA
Ingredients for 4 people:
- 2 cloves fresh garlic
- 12 leaves fresh basil
- 2 medium size eggplants
- 4 table spoons extra virgin olive oil
- a hint of black pepper
- 200 gr. salted ricotta cheese
- 400 gr. of dried pasta (rigatoni or paccheri)
- 700 gr. peeled tomatoes
- Wash and trim the eggplants, then cut them into slices of 4 mm in the vertical direction. Make sure you also cut a few slices horizontally which will be used to garnish the dish at the end. Place them in a colander sprinkled with coarse salt, then cover the eggplants with a plate and place a weight on top: leave them to purge for at least 20 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the tomato sauce by putting in a pan to brown the garlic with the oil: finally, add the peeled tomatoes. Cook on low heat until the sauce becomes mushy, then pass it through a sieve and put it back over to the heat to thicken. Once off the heat, add half the fresh basil leaves. Rinse out the eggplants under cold running water, then dry them thoroughly with a clean cloth and fry them in hot, but not boiling olive oil, or alternatively on a grill without oil, until golden. Transfer the eggplants on some paper towels to lose the excessive oil. Then put to boil the pasta in salted water and grate the ricotta, putting it aside. While pasta is cooking, cut into strips the fried eggplants (all except the longer slices that will be used to decorate the dishes). Transfer the remaining eggplants pieces in a pan with a few tablespoons of tomato sauce and when the pasta is al dente, drain and add to the sauce in the pan ; mix pasta and sauce for a minute and, before serving it, cover the pasta with the remaining tomato sauce, a few slices of eggplants, the grated ricotta, and the remaining fresh basil leaves.
Enjoy your weekend!