Pasta alla Norma is the most popular pasta with tomato and eggplants in Sicilian cuisine, and it’s a symbol of the city of Catania. When it comes to pasta alla Norma, you have to think about the connection between Vincenzo Bellini and the Sicilian town at the foot of Mount Etna. As a matter of fact this dish takes the name from the opera La Norma, of the famous composer from Catania.
In this regard, it is said that many years ago, this simple and sublime dish of pasta with tomato sauce and fried aubergines it was served to a few artists who performed the opere at that time. The wonder of the artists was so great that they said, “but this is Norma!” at the end of the meal, thus expressing the perfection of the dish. In summary, the exclamation of the artists corresponds to the veneration that the town of Catania has towards Bellini and La Norma. For Catania’s citizens this couple is a symbol of perfection, big things , excellence.
Catania’s citizens gave a great chef touch to this dish, known in every corner of the island: the final sprinkling of baked salted ricotta.
This course can also be seasoned with caciocavallo cheese or parmesan cheese, but the salted ricotta, in my opinion, is irreplaceable.
We, sometimes, make a variant that does not exclude any ingredients of the original recipe, but it gives another opportunity to appreciate even more this dish. The modification consists of adding to the still hot pasta, a few cubes of mozzarella and then complete the seasoning with tomato sauce, fried eggplant and salted ricotta. A true delicacy!
500 g of macaroni (but that’s okay any kind of pasta)
1 kg ripe tomatoes for tomato sauce
4 local aubergines (see caponata)
A bunch of basil
2 cloves of garlic
Oil for frying
Salt and pepper to taste
Gently fry the whole garlic and add the cleaned tomatoes cut into pieces and a few leaves of basil. Season with salt and pepper and cook over low heat. When the tomato is withered, remove from heat, pass it through a sieve and set aside the so obtained sauce.
Wash the aubergines, remove the stems together with a piece of the aubergine, cut just a strip of skin practicing a vertical cut from end to end (the skin must remain, but this strip). Now you have to choose wether to cut the eggplant into slices or cubes, I prefer them in cubes the result does not change. Then fry them in plentiful oil and place them on food oil absorbing paper towels. Cook the pasta al dente, mix it with the tomato sauce and serve laying down on it the fried eggplant, some basil leaves and a final sprinkling of freshly grated salted ricotta.