6.24.2010

Pasta alla Norma

Pasta alla norma is a traditional Sicilian dish, most popular in the city of Catania, Italy. There are various theories as to its name, meaning "standard or normal pasta" in English. One revolves around playwright Nino Catania Martoglio, who when referring to the quality of the dish and its ingredients, stated "è una norma!". I must give credit to my Italian friend Francesco for creating this recipe, though he refuses to claim it without the essential ingredient of ricotta cheese that is normally present in the dish.

Serves 5

What you need:

1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
2 eggplants/aubergines, sliced
10 tomatoes, diced
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
fresh basil
1 box tubular pasta

Prepare the eggplants by slicing them and rubbing them with salt. Lay the slices flat between two cutting boards or plates and let sit for 20-30 minutes. Press down on the cutting board, squeezing any excess liquid out of the eggplants, and rinse. After rinsing, dice the eggplants in large chunks. In a large pan on medium heat, sauté the onion and garlic in olive oil for around 10 minutes or until the garlic is golden. Add the diced eggplants and cover, stirring occasionally, for 15-20 minutes. Then add the tomatoes, a few whole leaves of basil, and salt. Recover and cook for another 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package instructions. Strain the pasta and add it to the sauce, mixing well. Sprinkle fresh basil on top and serve.

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