Pasta alla Norma
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Serves:     people
Notes from Anna
  • A simple, tasty recipe from the Sicilian gastronomic tradition, Pasta alla Norma is a triumph of Mediterranean flavours and definitely more than the sum of its parts!
  • It was named in honour of Vincenzo Bellini's opera Norma. The story goes that in the 19th century, Sicilian writer and theatre director Nino Martoglio was so impressed by the dish that he compared it to Bellini’s masterpiece.
  • It is not necessary to salt the aubergines prior to frying, but we favour this method because it removes the excess moisture from the slices so they absorb less oil during frying.


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  1. SALT Wash the aubergines and top and tail them. Cut each aubergine into 5mm rounds and place in a colander. Sprinkle generously with salt, cover with a plate and then place a heavy object on top. We use a jug full of water. Set aside for at least 25 minutes.
  2. See Notes from the Cook below for more information.
  3. Peel and bash the garlic cloves. Wash the basil and tear the leaves.
  4. Warm the tablespoon of olive oil in a saucepan. Add the garlic and cook for a few minutes until the cloves turn a nice golden colour.
  5. Add the torn basil leaves and the tomatoes. Rinse the tomato tin with water and add to the pan. Season with a little salt and a generous grinding of black pepper, turn the heat down and simmer for 30 minutes.
  6. Grate the ricotta salata or pecorino and set aside.
  7. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the spaghetti according to packet instructions.
  8. Meanwhile, thoroughly rinse the aubergine slices and place on a clean towel to remove the excess moisture.
  9. Warm some oil in a large frying pan and fry the aubergines for a few minutes until they turn a light golden colour. Place on kitchen paper to remove the excess oil. You may have to do this job in batches.
  10. Cut the aubergines slices into smaller pieces, reserving a few slices to top each plate of pasta. Remove the garlic cloves from the tomato sauce and add the chopped aubergines.
  11. Drain the pasta, reserving a little cooking water, and return it to the pan. Add the tomato and aubergine sauce and the grated ricotta cheese.
  12. Serve immediately, topping each portion with the reserved aubergine slices and more grated ricotta.

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