Penne Alla Norma
「Penne Alla Norma」
Penne alla Norma is a classic Sicilian dish using deep fried eggplants and ricotta salata in tomato sauce. A surprisingly light dish full of flavor that takes you to the Mediterranean seas…
This dish is supposedly named after the opera Norma, by Vincenzo Bellini, a native from Catania – which is also the original homeland of this recipe. Seems like the play is as incredible as the flavor of this dish!
This yummy pasta features some of the best ingredients from the island of Sicily: eggplants, tomatoes and ricotta cheese. The eggplants are deep fried in order to remove the bitterness and give them more flavor. Light and full of flavor, this vegetarian pasta is a great call for the summer season.
As an alternative, you may drop the cheese for a full vegan version! If that’s the case, just don’t forget to add extra seasonings (salt and pepper) to balance the flavor.
- 100g of penne rigate
- 4tbsp of olive oil
- 2 eggplants, cut in slices or large strips
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1tsp of red pepper flakes
- 1 can of peeled tomatoes
- Grated ricotta salata
- Black pepper
- Olive oil
- Firstly, deep fry the eggplants in oil (around 170°C) until they become golden brown. This should take around 2 minutes depending on the size of the eggplants. Afterwards, drain the excess oil and reserve them.
- Coarsely crush the tomatoes either by hand or using a fork.
- Cook the pasta until al dente. Next, drain and set it aside. Reserve around 4tbsp of the cooking water, we will use that later on.
- Using a large frying pan, set the heat to medium, add the olive oil and stir fry the garlic and pepper flakes briefly. Please be careful, do not to burn them!
- Add the tomatoes to the mix and cook them briefly until thickened.
- Adjust the seasonings with salt, black pepper and olive oil.
- Add the pasta, the cooking water from the pasta and the cheese. In order to let the pasta absorb the sauce, mix well the ingredients in the pan.
- Finally, add half of the deep fried eggplants, the basil and mix in. The other half will be later used to garnish the dish.
- You may serve the dish now! Garnish it with the remaining deep fried eggplant, basil and grated cheese on top.
If for any reason you cannot use a full deep-frying setup, you may just shallow fry the eggplants instead.
If finding good ricotta salata in your local market is a hard task, try replacing it with some similar strong-flavored cheese – for instance, Parmesan cheese.