How to Make PASTA ALLA NORMA like a Sicilian

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Pasta alla norma, has everything you want from a delicious Sicilian pasta dish. Crispy eggplant, salty ricotta cheese, luscious tomato sauce…and the ideal pasta shape to scoop it all up with. Fun fact: Pasta alla norma is named after Bellini’s 19th-century opera, Norma..and I promise you’ll be singing your way back to the pan for more once you try this satisfying eggplant pasta treat.

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300g/8oz Casarecce Dry Pasta
Small bunch fresh basil
2 cloves garlic
Ricotta Salata (Up to 250g)
1 can peeled tomatoes or 1 x bottle passata
1-2 eggplants
Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
Vegetable oil (for frying)
Salt + Pepper
5L water

2 medium sized deep pans
Medium size mixing bowl
Vegetable masher
Wooden spoon
Large pot for boiling pasta
Hand sieve


Pasta alla norma needs quality tender eggplants, so start by trimming the top and bottom of one (or two) and then cut into strips.
In the meantime, heat up vegetable oil in a deep pan or small pot.
Once the oil reaches a temperature of 180°C/356°F (or you can see it is ready!) place a handful of your strips in at a time and fry them up!
Pasta alla norma is all about the crispy eggplant, so once the eggplant strips are golden brown, remove from the oil and put them onto a plate lined with paper towels to absorb any excess liquid and leave to rest.
Add 5L water to a large pot and leave it to boil while you prepare your sauce.
This Sicilian Eggplant pasta is made with a fresh tomato sauce, so pour the peeled tomatoes into a medium mixing bowl and crush using a vegetable mashing utensil.
Once you have created a puree of tomatoes, add salt and pepper and mix with a wooden spoon.
Next place a medium size pan on your stove at low-medium heat and warm up a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
Once the oil is slightly warm crush the garlic cloves, adding them to the pan and stir.

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VINCENZO’S PLATE TIP: To prevent burning the garlic, add a tablespoon of water (slowly) to the pan, and mix it through.

Pour the tomato mix into the pan and drop the temperature to a lower heat so it cooks slowly.
Now it’s time to cook your pasta, so add a tablespoon of rock salt to the water, stir to help dissolve and leave to cook as per packet instructions.

VINCENZO’S PLATE TIP: Leave the lid slightly off centre on top of the pot letting some air in so the pot doesn’t overflow.

Add ¾ of the eggplant to your sauce and leave to simmer (at a low temperature) before breaking up a few fresh basil leaves and adding these too.
Once the pasta is ready, get a cup full of pasta water and put it to the side.
Using a hand sieve, strain the pasta and add it to the sauce before adding the cup of water and stirring through, leaving it to cook for one more minute.
Grate some ricotta salata in the pan and mix through until melted.

Add a few generous scoops of pasta to a serving bowl, a small handful of crispy eggplant (remember the extra you had put to the side?) along with freshly grated ricotta salata and a couple of basil leaves…

E ora si mangia, Vincenzo’s Plate…Enjoy!



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