Do you know what’s the best thing about knowing people from around the world?
Other than getting a free night stay (hint hint) – getting the inside knowledge of their food and recipes (…obviously!)
When I was told about this recipe from a proud Sicilian who claims this is the best thing ever, I am not one to disagree.
It’s a simple, traditional and classic Sicilian dish – incredibly satisfying and full of flavour, great for meatless Monday’s and counts as your five a day (Sweet!)
And for those dubious about Aubergines…… this is going to change your mind.
You will need the following ingredients for the delicious Pasta alla Norma
2 cans of chopped Tomato
A bunch of fresh basil
2 cloves of Garlic
Smoked ricotta cheese (grated)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Teaspoon of sugar
Tortiglioni Pasta (or Spaghetti or penne if you prefer)
Chop the aubergines into cubes and place them into a colander. Sprinkle them with salt and set aside for at least 30 minutes or overnight to draw out the moisture.
Add a generous glug of olive oil, enough to coat the bottom and an inch above. When it’s hot, put in one cube of aubergine to test the heat, when it’s popping away – add the rest of the aubergines in and fry till brown. (You can do this in batches)
Get another pan nice and hot, and add another glug of olive oil. When hot, add in the crushed garlic, fry till lightly brown.
Pour in the canned tomatoes into the garlic pan and season with salt and pepper. Don’t forget to add in a bit of sugar (yes, you heard right, it’s to adjust the tangyness of the tomato).
Turn the heat down. Let it all bubble away, stirring now and then for 15 mins until the sauce thickens.
Got to get multitasking here, cook the Penne in a pan of boiling salted water until ‘al dente’ or however you like to eat it while the sauce is bubbling away.
Grab the basil leaves from the plant (or packet), give each leaf a clap to bring the flavour (go on…you got to try it and yes, I literally mean put the leaf on your hand and clap!) before adding it to the tomato pan to release the flavour.
Add in the remaining unfried aubergine to the toms and a portion of shavings of cheese.
Turn the heat down. Let it all bubble away, stirring now and then for few minutes.
When the penne is cooked, drain the pasta well and add it to the tomato sauce.
Stir generously and coat each one with that lovely rich deep red colour.
Add in the rest of the aubergines and toss to combine.
Serve with a good shaving of cheese with a touch of basil on top.
Celebrate a picnic pasta in Autumn and tuck in!
And a humble brag to your friends of this yummy pasta alla norma.
P.s Thank you, Nicola, for introducing me to this delicious dish!
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