Pasta alla Norma is a symbol of the city of Catania. The name comes from the opera La Norma by the author Vincenzo Bellini, a famous composer from Catania. It is said that many years ago, this simple and sublime dish of pasta with tomato sauce and fried eggplant was served to a few artists who performed in the opera at that time. Their surprise was so great that they said, “but this is Norma!” at the end of the meal, thus expressing the perfection of the dish. So, the exclamation of the artists corresponded to the admiration that the town of Catania had towards Bellini and La Norma.
For Catania’s citizens, this duo represents at once: perfection, big things, and excellence!
- 5 cups of macaroni (this pasta looks most similar to what we call rigatoni in the U.S. but you can use any kind of pasta!)
- 10 ripe tomatoes for tomato sauce
- 4 aubergines/eggplants
- A bunch of basil
- 2 cloves of garlic
- Oil for frying
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Ricotta 'salata' (dried ricotta to shred over the top of the dish)
Gently fry the cloves of garlic and add the cleaned tomatoes, cut into pieces with a few leaves of basil. Season with salt and pepper and cook over low heat. When the tomato is withered, remove from heat, pass it through a strainer and set aside the sauce.
Wash the aubergines, remove the stems together with a piece of the aubergine, cut just a strip of skin practicing a vertical cut from end to end (the skin must remain, but this strip). Now you have to choose whether to cut the eggplant into slices or cubes. We prefer them in cubes, but the results are just as good either way.
Then fry your strips or cubes of eggplant, in plenty of oil and place them on absorbent paper towels. Cook the pasta al dente, mix it with the tomato sauce and serve it with the fried eggplant laying on top, as well as a few basil leaves and a sprinkling of freshly crumbled salted ricotta.