This is the queen of all Sicilian recipes, beloved by grown-ups and kids alike. According to the legend, this pasta recipe was SO good, it deserved to be named for the opera Norma by the great Italian compositor Vincenzo Bellini.
Tomatoes, eggplant, basil and ricotta salata—which translates to “salty aged ricotta,” normally available online or at any Italian deli or large stores—are the few simple and inexpensive ingredients you need to make the classic Norma. It’s a super easy and satisfying meal, perfect for busy weekdays or to please a large and hungry crowd.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
Finely cube the eggplant and pat the cubes dry with paper towels.
Heat 1 cup of extra-virgin olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the eggplant in a single layer and fry it until it's crispy and golden on both sides, about 4 minutes in total. Remove the eggplant with a slotted spoon and arrange the cubes in a single layer on a dish covered with paper towels. Dab the cubes with a paper towel to absorb the excess oil.
Slice the tomatoes in half and remove the seeds. Heat a large pan with the remaining 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil and the garlic over medium heat. Fold in the tomatoes and stir-fry them for 5 minutes. Stir in the warm water, 2 basil leaves and the pinch of sugar; cover with a lid and cook for 10 to 15 minutes. Discard the garlic and season the sacue with sea salt and black pepper to taste.
Lightly salt the boiling water and add the pasta. Cook until al dente, according to package directions, about 8 minutes. Drain the pasta. Add it to the pan with the tomato sauce, follwed by the fried eggplant cubes and the remaining basil leaves.
Stir all the ingredients together and sprinkle the ricotta salata all over the pasta.
Tip: If you can't find ricotta salt, substitute with classic Parmesan cheese.
Printed with permission by Page Street Publishing Co. October 1, 2019.