29 December, 2011

Pasta alla Norma

Pasta alla Norma

Of all the vegetables, I think the eggplants made the biggest progress in my kitchen. In the sense that as a child I hated them, just didn't like how my mother prepared them, fried, soggy, often bitter, and now I can't have enough of them. I've learned many ways of preparing them and luckily it's one of the vegetables my husband loves, too, so it's a reason more to prepare them often and try new recipes whenever I can.
Pasta alla Norma is one of the classics in Sicilian cuisine. Dedicated to Bellini's opera Norma (Bellini being a Sicilian composer, from Catania), or rather indicating that this dish is so supreme in its quality as Bellini's opera is in the music world.
I'm sure every Sicilian family has its own recipe, and they may differ slightly or a lot between them in the preparation process, but what they all have in common is a short ingredients list: tomatoes, eggplants, fresh basil  and salted ricotta. Therefore, the recipe I'm sharing today doesn't pretend to be THE recipe for Pasta alla Norma but one of many that I found delicious and simple to prepare at the same time.
Ricotta salata is ricotta that has been salted (with sea salt) and then dried for 10 to 30 days, after that it can be used, usually grated with pasta dishes especially with Pasta alla Norma. It has a stronger taste than the fresh ricotta, but I highly recommend it in this dish, if you can get your hands on it.

Ricotta salata
Ricotta salata

Pasta alla Norma

(4 servings)
* 400 g pasta (spaghetti, penne, tortiglioni)
* 400 g can of pelati tomatoes
* 100 g fresh tomatoes
* 2 cloves of garlic
* extra virgin olive oil
* salt
* 10-12 fresh basil leaves 
* 2 medium sized eggplants
* ricotta salata (salted ricotta)

Wash, dry and cut the eggplants into 4 mm thick slices. Salt the eggplant slices and leave them in a colander for an hour. Then rinse them and dry well with kitchen paper.
In the meantime, heat a couple spoonfulls of extra virgin olive oil in a deep skillet with the garlic cloves. Add the fresh tomatoes cut into smaller pieces (if using cherry tomatoes just cut them in half and put in the skillet with the cut side down). Cook them for a few minutes, until soft, and then add the chopped pelati, salt and cook the sauce on medium heat until it reaches desired density. Towards the end, add the fresh basil leaves.
In another skillet heat some more olive oil and fry the eggplant slices until golden (don't fry them all at once or they'll just get soggy, but put just enough slices to be in a single layer). Take them out and leave on several layers of kitchen paper to absorb the excess oil. Once they are all fried, salt them.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt it and add the pasta of your choice, cook it until al dente. Drain the pasta and then add it to the skillet with the tomato sauce. Stir well and serve, adding the eggplant slices to each plate and grating some salted ricotta on top.
You may also chop part of the fried eggplants and stir them into the sauce before adding pasta.


Pasta alla Norma


Pasta alla Norma

(per 4 persone)
* 400 g di pasta (spaghetti, penne, tortiglioni)
* 400 g di pomodori pelati
* 100 g di pomodori o pomodorini freschi
* 2 spicchi d'aglio
* olio extra vergine d'oliva
* sale
* 10-12 foglioline di basilico fresco
* 2 melanzane medie (io preferisco quelle lunghe)
* ricotta salata


Lavate e asciugate le melanzane. Tagliatele a rondelle spesse circa 4 mm. Salatale e lasciatele in un colino per un'ora. Sciacquatele e asciugatele bene con la carta assorbente.
Scaldate in una padella un paio di cucchiai d'olio con l'aglio schiacciato e sbucciato. Soffriggete brevemente l'aglio e poi aggiungete i pomodori freschi tagliati a pezzettini (se usate pomodorini basta tagliarli a metà). Cuocete i pomodori a fuoco medio finché morbidi, poi aggiungete i pelati tagliati a pezzettini, salate e lasciate cuocere il sugo fino ad addensarsi. Verso la fine aggiungete le foglie di basilico spezzettate.
In un'altra padella scaldate l'olio EVO e friggete le fettine di melanzane (poche alla volta) fino a diventare dorate. Scolatele dall'olio e lasciatele sulla carta assorbente, salandole man mano che sono fritte.
Cuocete la pasta in abbondante acqua salata. Scolatela e saltatela in padella insieme al sugo di pomodoro. A piacere, potete sminuzzare anche una parte di melanzane fritte e unire al sugo.
Servite la pasta aggiungendo le melanzane direttamente nei piatti e con una grattugiata abbondante di ricotta salata.



Pasta alla Norma


Pasta alla Norma

(za 4 osobe)
* 400 g tjestenine (spaghetti, penne, tortiglioni)
* 400 g rajčica pelata
* 100 g svježih rajčica (cherry ili običnih)
* 2 češnja bijelog luka
* maslinovo ulje
* sol
* svježi bosiljak (10-12 listića)
* 2 srednja patlidžana (bolji su oni tanki duguljasti)
* slana ricotta


Patlidžane operite i posušite. Narežite ih na ploške debljine 4 mm.
Ako se plašite da će patlidžani biti gorki, nasolite ih i stavite u cjedilo (pritisnite odozgor nečim) i ostavite tako oko 1 sat. Zatim ih isperite i dobro posušite.
Zagrijte par žlica maslinovog ulja u dubokoj tavi s cijelim (očišćenim) češnjevima bijelog luka. Pazite da češnjak ne izgori.
Dodajte narezane svježe rajčice (ako koristite cherry rajčice samo ih prepolovite i stavite u tavu s presječenom stranom prema dolje). Pirjajte rajčice par minuta dok ne odmeknu.
Dodajte sitno nasjeckane pelate, posolite i ostavite kuhati na srednje jakoj vatri dok se salsa ne zgusne.
Pred sam kraj dodajte rukama natrgane listiće bosiljka.
Pržite u više navrata posušene kriške patlidžana na vrućem ulju do zlatne boje. Vadite ih na tanjur, na par slojeva kuhinjskog papira da se ocijedi višak masnoće i sasvim lagano ih posolite.
Skuhajte tjesteninu al dente, ocijedite je i umiješajte u tavu s umakom.
Poslužite tjesteninu u tanjure i u svaki dodajte kriške patlidžana i krupno naribanu slanu ricottu.
Po želji možete dio isprženih patlidžana nasjeckati na komadiće i umiješati u umak od rajčica zajedno s tjesteninom, a ostatak dodati u tanjure naknadno.

Pasta alla Norma

3 comments:

  1. Yum, yum, and yum. I like you used to hate eggplant for the same reasons you did. I have learned to love grilled eggplant, roasted eggplant and I know I would love this.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ja volim svo povrće i uvijek ću ga odabrati prije nego meso. Patlidžane moja mama nikad nije pripremala pa kad sam se ja dočepala kuhinje isprobala sam sve ono što nisam do tad imala prilike. Patlidžani su mi se svidjeli, na sve načine. Moj muž ga nažalost ne ljubi, baš kao ni tikvice. Jedino mu ga mogu podvaliti u tjesteninu jer nju obožava pa s njome sve može pojesti :D Odličan recept. Nisam jedino kod nas vidjela ovu slanu ricottu za kupiti pa ja korsitim parmezan.

    ReplyDelete

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