Sicilian Pasta alla Norma

Tuesday, January 10, 2012
It has been said that Pasta alla Norma comes from Catania, a city on the eastern coast of Sicily, and this dish is made with fried eggplant, pasta usually penne or rigatoni, and ricotta salata, and always with fresh basil simmered in a fresh marinara sauce.

There is much controversy on how to cut the eggplant in cubes or slices, fried or baked but everyone agrees that fresh basil should never be missed in this dish.

We have adapted the ingredients to what is available and since it's so hard to find ricotta salata which is a hard cheese and grated as opposed to the whole milk ricotta that can be easily eaten with a spoon and that's what we used in our dish.

We've also used zucchini with this dish and both are delicious used for this recipe.

This Sicilian Eggplant dish is one that is very flavorful if you're a fan of all the ingredients we are adding to this pasta dish today.

Freshly simmered marinara compliments this tasty dish and we add some shredded mozzarella on top and garnished with Pecorino Romano cheese and red pepper flakes.

As always, you can make this dish however you like, this is our version and we love it scroll down to the recipe card for directions!


pasta with eggplants and cheese





Step By Step

  • fry the  eggplant or zucchini rounds in garlic-infused oil until golden and salt, pepper them  drain on paper towels
  • make the marinara sauce
  • boil the pasta in salt water and reserve some pasta water
  • mix the ricotta and pasta with a little sauce
  • add the eggplant or zucchini and more sauce
  • garnish with cheeses and red pepper flakes


sliced eggplants draining on paper towels


Ingredients You Will Need exact measurements are in the recipe card that's printable below


  • penne,rigatoni or another thick style pasta you prefer
  • reserved pasta water
  • whole milk ricotta or salata
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • olive oil
  • San Marzano tomatoes
  • fresh basil
  • red pepper
  • shredded mozzarella
  • Pecorino Romano
  • eggplant or zucchini slices


eggplant

Pasta to Use

  • ziti
  • mostacioli
  • penne
  • rigatoni



fresh marinara sauce


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fried eggplant


Suggestions and Tips:

  1. use zucchini as a substitute for eggplant
  2. the oil needs to be infused with garlic until golden, not brown
  3. get all the ingredients prepared before adding and follow the steps
  4. cook the pasta al dente to the package instructions
  5. Thicker pasta is suggested for the best results
  6. reserve pasta water just in case the sauce is too thick
  7. the pasta is gently tossed in with the creamy cheese
  8. cook the pasta al dente with salt
  9. eggplant or zucchini should be sliced 1/8 inch thick and golden brown when fried
  10. eggplant or zucchini can be baked on parchment paper to save calories
  11. garnishes are optional ingredients: using shredded whole milk mozzarella and Pecorino Romano cheese along with red pepper flakes and any herbs you prefer


penne pasta boiling


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pin for later eggplant with pasta and tomato sauce


Adapted Recipe



If you're looking for the salata cheese for a more authentic recipe, you may find it at a specialty Italian deli or online for this dish.

This dish is adapted to the ingredients that are easy to find at any local grocery store in the United States.

Basil makes the sauce for Pasta alla Norma fragrant and a compliment to this dish and it's elegant to serve to host a dinner party as a garnish also.


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Italian
Yield: 8
Author: Claudia Lamascolo
Sicilian Pasta all Norma

Sicilian Pasta all Norma

This is a Sicilian dish called Pasta all Norma made with eggplant and ricotta salata or zucchini
Prep time: 10 MinCook time: 30 MinTotal time: 40 Min

Ingredients

  • 2 or 3 small eggplants or zucchini
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup of whole milk ricotta or (ricotta salata cheese which is hard to find in the U.S.)
  • Note: (Both whole milk ricotta and ricotta salata are a creamy texture and mild, nutty flavor. But unlike whole milk ricotta that can be eaten with a spoon, ricotta salata is salted, comes on a wheel, and aged for several months then grated on to this dish. I have substituted regular since it's so hard to find for the authentic version)
  • 1 (28-ounce can of whole San Marzano peeled tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil plus 2 tablespoons
  • 4 fresh basil leaves
  • salt for the water and to taste for this dish
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • granulated garlic powder is optional
  • pasta or choice however we usually use rigatoni pasta
  • Optional: whole milk mozzarella grated and Pecorino Romano cheese for garnishing

Instructions

  1. Peel the eggplant or zucchini leaving stripes then cut into rounds leaving that pretty skinned edging (or you can remove all the skin if you prefer.
  2. I place the eggplant on paper towels sprinkle it with salt and let it sit for an hour to drain.(Skip this step if using zucchini it's not necessary)
  3. Clean the garlic then slice it into thin pieces.
  4. If you happen to have the salata cheese grate it and set it aside (you will need 1/2 cup).
  5. Pulse the tomatoes in a food processor or cut them into small chunks.
  6. In a large saucepan add 2 tablespoons of the oil then the garlic and saute until golden in color around 2 minutes on medium heat.
  7. Add the chunks of tomatoes to the pan and simmer for around 14 to 15 minutes then add the basil, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.
  8. While this is simmering, in a clean frying pan saute in the 1/4 cup of oil the zucchini or eggplant sliced until golden brown on each side and starting to get crispy.
  9. Place them on a paper towel to absorb the oil and salt them ( I also sprinkle them with granulated garlic powder and black pepper for more flavor)
  10. Boil the pasta in salted water to package instructions (we like out al dente) Drain the pasta reserving around 1/4 cup of pasta water.
  11. In a large pasta bowl add the pasta and ricotta and gently blend together.
  12. Top with the eggplant slices and more sauce.
  13. If the sauce has thickened nicely then pour this over the pasta and eggplant.
  14. Garnish is optional:
  15. Sprinkle with either shredded mozzarella cheese or Pecorino Romano (we use both). Serve when the cheese begins to melt and soften on top of the hot eggplant and pasta.

Notes

Suggestions and Tips:

  1. use zucchini as a substitute for eggplant
  2. the oil needs to be infused with garlic until golden, not brown
  3. get all the ingredients prepared before adding and follow the steps
  4. cook the pasta al dente to the package instructions
  5. Thicker pasta is suggested for the best results
  6. reserve pasta water just in case sauce is too thick
  7. the pasta is gently tossed in with the creamy cheese
  8. cook the pasta al dente with salt
  9. eggplant or zucchini should be sliced 1/8 inch thick and golden brown when fried
  10. eggplant or zucchini can be baked on parchment paper to save calories
  11. garnishes are optional using shredded whole milk mozzarella and Pecorino Romano cheese along with red pepper flakes



Pasta to Use

  • ziti
  • mostacioli
  • penne
  • rigatoni


Nutrition Facts

Calories

152.16

Fat (grams)

8.12

Sat. Fat (grams)

1.61

Carbs (grams)

16.05

Fiber (grams)

4.24

Net carbs

11.8

Sugar (grams)

5.99

Protein (grams)

4.94

Sodium (milligrams)

137.89

Cholesterol (grams)

6.14


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21 comments

  1. What a rich sauce with vegetables. I love it. Bye, have a good day

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  2. I just got a new crockpot and I'm definitely making this. Thank you so much!

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  3. I have got to try this one. So simple but I bet it is fantastic. To top it off it is healthy.

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  4. Lots of fresh veggies and pasta. Good stuff!

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  5. Looks delicious, Claudia! I'd love it with Italian sausage...mmmmm.

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  6. Love all the ingredients separately, so can only imagine they're delicious together!

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  7. sounds like it packs a punch of goodness... a real taste teaser I am sure..
    know the cooked down sauce would be heavenly..

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  8. Good stuff! Love the eggplant and mushroom :)

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  9. Such incredible flavors, this looks delicious! :)

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  10. This looks beautiful, vibrant and healthy :) Great dish!

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  11. I love all the vegetables! They're all some of my favorites! The colors are just gorgeous. I would definitely eat this sauce in a heart beat :)

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  12. WOW! This looks so GOOD! I've never had eggplant but I love peppers and mushrooms! I know its as good as it looks! :-)

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  13. Lovely, flavorful and healthful dish. Thanks for sharing!

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  14. January should be called "vegetable month" because we all stand up and pay attention. This is the perfect dish for keeping many New Year resolutions. So tasty - it makes eating healthy a pleasure.

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  15. Now I know why I had pasta in my head all day---I must have had a 6th sense you were posting this fab sauce!

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  16. This is a healthy twist on the traditional tomato sauce. Even though it has a lot of veggies in it, the addition of meat or poultry makes it that much better! Great sauce Claudia-yum!

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  17. This is total comfort food and so delicious! We loved it!

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  18. This was such a simple and easy pasta dish but it was super flavorful and satisfying! Yum!

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  19. Elegant and easy - that's just what my busy summer days needs! Perfect!

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  20. I'm actually drooling over this!! I just bookmarked it to make for this weekend, thank you so much for sharing!! :)

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Remember to use the search option for a recipe you're looking for and thanks for all your kind words and support. We love our readers all the best Claudia