Pasta alla Norma

-Pasta with Aubergine-     Also known as “Pasta alla Bellini

This simple but wonderful dish is named after the famous composer Vincenzo Bellini, who was born in 1801 in Catania/Sicily.

His most famous opera “Norma” was always thought to be the favourite of the late great Maria Callas, the undisputed Diva Assoluta of the 20th Century.

In our private music collection is a recording from a 1958 concert in Paris with Callas singing “Casta Diva” – just writing about it sends shivers down my spine – so very beautiful! I would happily have given my eye-teeth to have seen her on stage – anywhere, but alas, I never had the opportunity.

Actually my friends, you know what! If you all will excuse me for a little while. Let me go to my kitchen and whilst preparing this dish I want to share with you today, I will play “Casta Diva”; and if peeling the onion does not bring tears to my eyes the incredible voice of the great Madame Callas most certainly will – always! And for you, who do like classical music but have never listened to this Aria, I suggest you go to YouTube – it will be worth your while.

For: 4 plus

Ingredients:

4 Tbsp olive oil

1 or 2 big garlic cloves, roughly chopped

½ kg ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped (or 1 can of chopped Italian tomatoes)

Some vegetable oil, needed for frying

App. 350 g aubergines (eggplants) diced into small cubes

1 medium onion, finely chopped

450 g dried spaghetti (1 whole pack)

Handful of fresh basil leaves, shredded by hand

App. 150 g ricotta cheese (or any other good hard cheese in desperation), grated

Salt and black pepper, to taste

 

Method:

Heat the olive oil, add garlic and cook over low heat, stirring all the time, for a couple of minutes.

Add tomatoes, salt and pepper.

Cover and simmer gently for 20 minutes.

Put the diced aubergines into a large colander and lightly sprinkle each layer with salt, cover and leave to rest for at least ½ hour so that the bitter juices get drawn out. When rested, pat them dry with a clean tea-towel.

Now pour vegetable oil into a deep frying pan or wok. Heat until quite hot but do not allow the oil to smoke. Fry the prepared aubergines in small batches for 5 minutes only until lightly browned. Remove with slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.

Cook pasta in plenty of water until al dente.

Add the fried aubergines to the tomato sauce and heat through. Check seasoning.

Drain pasta and tip immediately into previously warmed bowl or large platter. Add the sauce, basil and a generous handful of cheese. Toss well and serve.

P.S. Of course, here too are any different versions of this famous Sicilian dish, why not try out the one above which I have been making for many years now.

Bon appetito – Ciao Carina

6 thoughts on “Pasta alla Norma

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