One story goes that the chef who invented the dish was so taken by the opera that he named it after Bellini’s work. Another story goes that a group of musicians, when presented with this dish, exclaimed “Chista è una vera Norma!“, which is to say, “Wow! This is a real Norma!” because, at the time, the opera was a byword for all that was really, really good. Whatever the origins, this dish really is delicious, especially in the summer or early fall, when tomatoes and eggplants are available. (from Memorie d’Angelina)
A classic Sicilian dish of eggplant sautéed in olive oil and served with pasta in a rich tomato sauce, with fresh Basil and Ricotta Salata. If you can't find the firm salted ricotta at your store, parmesan, pecorino or finely grated feta are good too.
- for 6 people
- 1 box short pasta or spaghetti -
- 2 lb fresh roma tomatoes - or 1 can peeled tomatoes (28 oz)
- 2-3 twigs fresh basil leaves -
- 2-3 cloves garlic -
- 1 big eggplant in small cubes or slices -
- olive oil -
- ricotta salata - or parmesan or pecorino or finely grated feta
- salt -
- opt. italian peperoncino (hot red pepper) -
cut up a large eggplant into cubes and put them in a colander. Sprinkle the eggplant liberally with sea salt, and mix, weigh the eggplant down (a small plate with a can of tomatoes or beans on top works well) and allow them to sit for 30-60 minutes.
Prepare the sauce by sautéing a few slightly crushed garlic cloves in a generous amount of olive oil and, when the garlic begins to give off its aroma before it starts to brown, add about 500g (1 lb.) of fresh or canned tomatoes. Allow the tomatoes to simmer for about 15/20 minutes or so, until the tomato is thick and smooth and has separated from the oil. Add a handful of basil leaves, salt to taste and turn the gas off.
put the water to boil
take the eggplant cubes and squeeze them dry in paper or cotton towel, then fry them in olive oil until golden brown. Remove the oil in excess.
In the meanwhile cook your pasta of choice (spaghetti, penne, rigatoni, etc.) until al dente. Drain and pour into the pot with the tomato sauce , (more fresh basil), and part of the eggplant, mix well. Turn the pasta into a large serving bowl, top with the rest of the eggplant pieces and a generous, coarse grating of ricotta salata, and serve immediately.