Pasta with Norma

Well know Sicilian cuisine dish. If only because the name that binds to the masterpiece of Vincenzo Bellini. They say that the name is due to the exclamation of the playwright Nino Martoglio guest in Musco – Pandolfini house (Angelo Musco was a famous catanese comedian), that, tasting it, complimented the cook saying, “Madam, this is a Norma.” To say that the pasta was perfect as the work of Bellini. If this is the true origin, I can not guarantee it.

ricotta salata - salted ricotta

ricotta salata – salted ricotta

It is instead likely to be a legend. In fact the pasta with tomato sauce, fried eggplant and basil is very common in Sicily and the same everywhere with the only difference of the cheese grated above that in Catanese is the salted ricotta and elsewhere pecorino cheese or caciocavallo cheese. It must be said that in Napoli is called “Sicilian pasta” with the variant of the mozzarella. I think that at some point the people of Catania have considered their version with ricotta salata the only “in norm”
ie made according to the rules. In my opinion, the name it comes from there but it is my hypothesis. One thing I can assure you: is not called “pasta alla Norma”, but “pasta with Norma”.

Ingredients for 4 people

350 g of bucatini (or spaghetti, rigatoni, penne, reginette, tortiglioni)
1 kg of purple eggplants
1 kg of perfectly ripe red tomatoes (or tomato puree)
100 g of grated salted ricotta
1/2 white onion
10 basil leaves
2 sprigs whole basil
1 clove garlic
extra virgin olive oil
black pepper from reel or mortar

Peel the eggplants, cut them to the length in 1 cm slices and put them to bleed, for half an hour, in a colander after being well sprinkled with coarse salt.
Wash and dry them well and fry in olive oil.
When they are golden brown on both sides, place them to drain in the colander and then to dry on a fried paper sheet to remove excess oil: do not overlook this, otherwise the eggplant will be greasy.
Clean and wash the red tomatoes, then squeeze them with your hands directly into the pot. Salt, add a clove of whole garlic, the half onion coarsely chopped and a sprig of basil, then cook over moderate heat partially covered, without adding water. After 20 minutes, drain the tomatoes and pass them to the mill.
Adjust the puree with salt, add a little oil, a little black pepper, the other sprig of basil and simmer for 5 minutes on low heat. When cooked, remove the sprig basil, salt if needed and add a teaspoon sugar only if the puree is a little acid. Meanwhile have boiled the pasta, pour it into the serving bowl and sprinkle with 4 tablespoons of salted ricotta grated.
Stir, add the tomato sauce and stir again. Arrange on the surface some other spoon of the sauce, the fried eggplants and plentiful grated ricotta. Over all, the basil leaves chopped with your fingers.
At the table, will be available other eggplants and other salted ricotta.

recipe from Martino Ragusa

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