Pasta alla Norma is an original recipe from Catania. It is characterized by typically Mediterranean flavors. A tasty pasta dish seasoned with fresh tomatoes and a cascade of fried eggplants. In Southern Italy eggplants abound: used in dozens of recipes (for example Eggplant Parmigiana, Polpette di Melanzane), it is an ingredient with immense flexibility.
But it would not be pasta alla Norma without the addition of fresh basil leaves and a generous grated salted ricotta cheese added at the end of cooking.
Tradition has it that Nino Martoglio, a Sicilian writer and poet, was so impressed by the extraordinary goodness of this dish that he compared it to Norma, the famous Opera composer of Catania Vincenzo Bellini. Since then, this tasty first course is called Pasta alla Norma.
Cut the eggplant into small cubes, salt lightly and leave to rest for about 20 minutes, so that the water inside can escape.
Brown the chopped onion and garlic in a pan in which you have previously heated the extra virgin olive oil.
Add the tomato pulp, salt, pepper and cook for about 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile fry the eggplants in another pan where you have previously heated plenty of extra virgin olive oil at medium-high heat.
When your sauce is ready, cook the pasta in abundant salted water, drain and season with the sauce stirring still on a low flame. Finally add the basil and the grated salted ricotta. Serve warm.
Before frying vegetables like eggplants or zucchini, you should slice them, place them in a colander and sprinkle with salt. In this way the excess water contained in the vegetables will be eliminated, resulting in more sweet and crunchy cooking. Rinse and dry before frying.
It is advisable to immediately consume the pasta alla Norma. Freezing is not recommended.
The kind of pasta indicated for this preparation is the short one like the penne, the rigatoni or the mezze maniche or even paccheri.