Alessio enjoys traveling and discovering new cultures and food traditions.
Italy is famous in the world for its variety of pasta recipes. Each region in the country features its specialties, and Sicily makes no exception. The island is already famous for its pastries and the arancino, a rice ball stuffed with different ingredients, but another popular food from Sicily is pasta alla norma. This pasta dish features tomato sauce, fried eggplants, basil, and ricotta salata, a local cheese made with sheep's milk. Pasta alla norma is a simple dish you can prepare even if you do not have much time to cook. The preparation involves making a tomato sauce with only the additional step of adding fried eggplants. We don't even cook the pasta with the ricotta salata cheese, as this is used at the end of the preparation to garnish before serving. Below is the recipe for preparing this simple but delicious Mediterranean dish.
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- Coarse salt
- 2 large round eggplants
- 4 cloves of garlic
- A bunch of basil
- A round fresh tomato of medium size
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Pinch of salt
- 2 cups tomato puree
- 2 fresh cayenne peppers
- 14 ounces pasta
- Ricotta salata
Step 1: Start Preparing the Sauce
The first step involves beginning to prepare the ingredients for the sauce.
- Add four cloves of garlic, four basil leaves, some pieces of peeled eggplant, and two chili peppers to a pan, a little salt on the basil leaves, and crush all the ingredients.
- Add extra virgin olive oil, as required to sauté over low heat. Stop cooking just before the garlic changes color.
Step 2: Prepare the Eggplants
This passage is perhaps the most delicate, as we must obtain, as a final result, eggplants deprived of their water, fried, and cut into thin strips.
- Cut the eggplants into thick slices and add salt to dry them. Keep them with salt on top for around 30 minutes in a colander, then squeeze them to make them lose even more water.
- Add the slices to an oiled pan and fry them. After this, let them rest on paper to absorb the oil in excess.
- Cut the fried eggplant pieces into small strips.
Step 3: Finish Preparing the Sauce
- Cut a fresh tomato into small pieces and add it to the pan where you previously crushed the garlic, basil, and peppers.
- Add the once-fried eggplant strips to the pan.
- Add the tomato puree to the pan and cook over low heat for another two minutes. The sauce is ready.
Step 3: Cook the Pasta
For convenience, we used a pack of store-bought pasta from a famous brand in Italy, but if you have the time, you can try making pasta at home. If you decide to buy it, cook it following the instructions on the package, sticking to the suggested times.
After having cooked and drained the pasta, it's time to finish preparing the dish by pouring the pasta into the pan with the sauce and stirring it over low heat for a minute.
Step 4: Serve
After having cooked the pasta, it is time to serve it. After serving, decorate with a basil leaf and add the slices of ricotta salata as you wish. This cheese can be difficult to find outside Italy. The advice is to visit a shop specializing in Italian foods. It is perhaps the least important ingredient of the whole recipe, as we add it after cooking and when serving the pasta. Still, the original recipe involves it, and this cheese is that extra that makes the final dish even tastier. If you can't buy this cheese, you are intolerant, or vegan, you can still skip this last step and eat pasta with tomato sauce and fried eggplants: the dish will also be delicious.
© 2022 Alessio Ganci