Pasta alla norma is one of the most famous Italian dishes in the world, and it’s also one of my favourites. It is a typical Sicilian recipe, and brings with it typically Mediterranean flavors.
The preparation of pasta alla norma is simple; however, to cook the dish in the traditional way requires some time (between an hour and a half and 2 hours).
Pasta alla norma is prepared with a few simple ingredients, and this is also why it is important that they are of excellent quality.
Let’s see the ingredients, how to prepare it, calories and nutritional values, some tips and hypotheses on the origin of the name.
PASTA ALLA NORMA INGREDIENTS FOR 4 PERSONS
- Durum wheat pasta 320 g
- Pomodori freschi o pomodori pelati 500 g
- Ricotta salata 200 g
- Eggplants 400 g
- Garlic 1 clove
- Basil 10 leaves
- Pepper in grains to be ground to taste
- Salt to taste
PREPARATION: HOW TO MAKE PASTA ALLA NORMA
As we were saying, the preparation of pasta alla norma is simple, however it requires some time (between an hour and a half and 2 hours). Let’s see how to prepare the eggplant before cooking them, and then the other steps of the recipe.
How to prepare aubergines
- To make pasta alla norma start cuting the aubergines, and sprinkle the slices with coarse salt. Put the slices on top of each other on a slightly inclined shelf (for example a cutting board) or in a colander. On top place a plate with a weight on it.
- Leave the aubergines to rest for about half an hour so that they dry and lose the bitter component of the flavour.
- Rinse the aubergines and dry them.
The other steps of the preparation
- Grate the ricotta salata with a grater with large holes.
- Take a pan, and heat up some extra virgin olive oil. Brown the garlic, add the tomato and a few basil leaves and cook over a low heat.
- Set a pot of water on the stove, and bring water to the boil.
- Take a pan, and heat up some extra virgin olive oil. Fry the aubergines.
- While the aubergines are frying, add a little coarse salt in the pasta water and toss the pasta.
- When the aubergines are lightly browned, remove them from the pan and place them on absorbent kitchen paper. Keep them warm.
- Cut most of the aubergine slices into strips, and leave a few whole slices. Transfer the cut aubergines into a pan with a few tablespoons of tomato sauce.
- Drain the pasta al dente.
- Transfer the pasta to the pan with the aubergines, and sauté for a few minutes.
- Serve the pasta and cover it with tomato sauce, grated ricotta salata, slices of whole eggplant and some leaves of fresh basil.
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SOME TIPS OR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
- Use short pasta shapes, possibly with a rather large diameter, such as tortiglioni or rigatoni. In the Trapani area, a format called busiata is used, which is a long pasta. However, other long formats are usually not recommended.
- As for tomatoes, you can start with fresh whole tomatoes or use ready-made peeled tomatoes. To prepare tomato sauce starting with whole tomatoes:
- burn the tomatoes in boiling water;
- drain the tomatoes and remove the peel;
- cut them into small cubes.
- Frying aubergines is considered a mandatory step by the purists of the original recipe; if you want to prepare a lighter dish, you can cook grilled aubergines.
- In the Messina area, aubergines are diced rather than sliced. If you decide to cut the eggplants into cubes, you can use long eggplants; otherwise, the rounded eggplants are better.
THE ORIGIN OF PASTA ALLA NORMA
According to some, the name of the dish derives from an expression of the Sicilian playwright, writer and poet Nino Martoglio, who would have been so impressed by the goodness of the dish to compare it to the Norma, the work of the composer Vincenzo Bellini.
There are different versions of the recipe. The original recipe includes, among the ingredients, salted ricotta (not baked ricotta) and sliced aubergines fried in extra virgin olive oil.
Ricotta salata is a dairy product (not a cheese) made from whey. The word ricotta means recooked and salata means salted.
PASTA ALLA NORMA CALORIES AND NUTRITIONAL VALUES
A portion of pasta alla norma brings about 700 kcal.
It contains indicatively:
- Protein: 22 g
- Lipids: 39 g
- Carbohydrates: 70 g
The version with grilled aubergines instead of fries is a lighter and less caloric dish. Consider that extra virgin olive oil brings 824 kcal per 100 ml, so a spoon of about 15 ml provides 124 kcal.