Norma – A tomato pasta sauce from Sicily
Pasta with tomato sauce is the most popular Italian dish, and I am sure you can agree it’s delicious. However, the Sicilians take it to a next level by adding eggplant and salted ricotta cheese. They call it pasta alla Norma. The Sicilians eat this pasta all the time, very often for lunch before their main course. Keep reading to get the easy step-by-step recipe.
- 1 medium eggplant
- 1 garlic clove
- Country basil pasta sauce
- 250 grams rigatoni
- 4 leaves fresh or frozen basil
- salt to taste
- good quality extra virgin olive oil
- 50 grams ricotta salata (which is a semi-dried and salted ricotta cheese)
Start by peeling and cutting your eggplant into cubes. Then place them into a bowl, sprinkle half a teaspoon salt, and cover with water. Let them rest for at least one hour. This process removes the bitterness out of the eggplant, but if you don’t mind it you can skip it.
After the hour has passed, drain the eggplant and cook it in a heated pan with a generous drizzle of olive oil on the bottom of the pan and on top of the eggplant. Cover with a lid, and let the eggplant cubes cook. They should be done in 15 to 20 minutes. Make sure to check them every 5 minutes, and drizzle some more olive oil halfway through the cooking time.
In the meantime, boil the water for the pasta. And, put your pasta sauce in a pot with a drizzle of olive oil the peeled garlic and the basil leaves.
When the water is boiling throw the rigatoni, and let them cook following the cooking instructions.
Once ready, drain the pasta, throw it back into the pot and add the tomato sauce. Mix well and plate.
Top your tomato pasta with the fried eggplant cubes.
And don’t forget to grate a generous amount of ricotta salata cheese. It’s what gives this pasta its incredible flavour.
You can also use spaghetti to replace the rigatoni. And if you truly want to make it as the Sicilians do, you want to slice the eggplant into large circles and fry them in a generous amount of oil. We showed you the healthier option which is as delicious.