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  • Writer's pictureThe Sicilian Wanderer

Pasta alla Norma: the original recipe and its variations.


Pasta alla Norma: the original recipe and its variations.

Today, we're taking you on a culinary journey to the beautiful Sicily, where we'll share with you the original recipe for pasta alla norma.

Pasta alla norma is a quintessential Sicilian dish, named after the famous opera "La Norma" by the composer Vincenzo Bellini, who hailed from the region. It's believed that the dish was named as such because it's "normal", meaning straightforward and unpretentious, but also because it epitomizes the standard of authentic and genuine Sicilian flavors.

The original recipe calls for simple yet high-quality ingredients like durum wheat pasta, fresh eggplants, tomatoes, salted ricotta cheese, and extra-virgin olive oil.


Here's the detailed recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 400g of durum wheat pasta (preferably spaghetti)

  • 500g of peeled tomatoes

  • 2 medium eggplants

  • 1 onion

  • 2 garlic cloves

  • 100g of grated salted ricotta

  • Extra-virgin olive oil, as needed

  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Preparation:

Dice the eggplants and place them in a bowl with salted water for about 30 minutes to remove any bitterness.

Finely chop the onion and garlic and sauté them in a pan with some olive oil.

Add the peeled tomatoes to the pan and simmer on medium-low heat for about 15-20 minutes until the sauce thickens.

Meanwhile, drain the eggplants from the water and pat them dry with paper towels. Fry them in olive oil until they turn golden.

Cook the pasta in salted boiling water until al dente. Drain.

Combine the tomato sauce with the pasta, add the fried eggplants, and the grated salted ricotta.

Mix well and serve hot, drizzling with some extra-virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper.

And there you have it, pasta alla norma ready to be savored! The sweet and tender flavor of the eggplants perfectly complements the rich and savory tomato sauce, while the grated salted ricotta adds a touch of saltiness.

We conclude this culinary journey in the stunning Sicily, hoping you've enjoyed our original pasta alla norma recipe. If you wish to taste genuine Sicilian cuisine, don't hesitate to prepare this dish for your next dinner!


Pasta alla norma with zucchini

Pasta alla norma is a staple of Sicilian cuisine that lends itself to many variations and personal touches. Here are some ideas to enhance the original recipe:


  • Pasta alla norma with chili: Add freshly chopped chili to the tomato sauce, along with the peeled tomatoes, to give the pasta a spicy kick.

  • Pasta alla norma with zucchini: Replace the eggplants with zucchini, diced and fried in extra-virgin olive oil. This version is especially suitable for those who aren't fond of the bitter taste of eggplants.

  • Pasta alla norma with smoked scamorza cheese: Add diced smoked scamorza cheese to the pasta just before serving. This twist will give the pasta a smoky flavor, making it even more delicious.

  • Pasta alla norma with cherry tomatoes: Use cherry or datterini tomatoes instead of peeled tomatoes for a sweeter and more delicate tomato sauce. This version is particularly suitable for a fresh summer pasta dish.


Each variation can be customized according to individual tastes and preferences, adjusting ingredient quantities or using different spices and flavors. Experiment and have fun creating your favorite version of pasta alla norma!



We also have a delicious twist on pasta alla norma with the addition of meatballs:

Ingredients for the meatballs:

  • 500g ground meat (beef or veal)

  • 1 egg

  • 50g breadcrumbs

  • 50g grated cheese (Parmesan or pecorino)

  • 1 finely chopped garlic clove

  • Chopped parsley, to taste

  • Salt and pepper, to taste

  • Extra-virgin olive oil, as needed

Preparation:

In a bowl, mix the ground meat, egg, breadcrumbs, grated cheese, chopped garlic, and parsley. Season with salt and pepper, then combine the ingredients well.

With damp hands, form meatballs of the desired size and place them on a tray lined with parchment paper.

In a pan, heat some extra-virgin olive oil and brown the meatballs until uniformly golden. Transfer them to a plate and set aside.

Dice the eggplants and soak them in a bowl of salted water for about 30 minutes to remove any bitterness.

Finely chop the onion and garlic and sauté them in a pan with a drizzle of olive oil.

Add the peeled tomatoes to the pan and simmer on medium-low heat for about 15-20 minutes until the sauce thickens.

Meanwhile, drain the eggplants from the water and pat them dry with paper towels. Fry them in olive oil until they turn golden.

Cook the pasta in plenty of salted water until al dente.

Combine the tomato sauce with the pasta, add the fried eggplants, meatballs, and grated salted ricotta. Mix well and serve hot, drizzling with some extra-virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper.


Intolerances:

Pasta alla norma is a traditional Sicilian dish that includes ingredients like durum wheat pasta, eggplants, tomatoes, and salted ricotta. However, some individuals might be intolerant to one or more of these ingredients, making it challenging to enjoy this dish.

For those with gluten intolerance, there are several gluten-free pasta alternatives available on the market that can replace durum wheat pasta. Eggplants, tomatoes, and salted ricotta generally don't pose any food intolerance issues.

For those lactose intolerant, salted ricotta can be replaced with lactose-free cheese, such as goat or sheep cheese.

For those intolerant to nightshades, like eggplants and tomatoes, alternative vegetables like zucchini or bell peppers can be used.

In general, pasta alla norma can be adapted to meet individual needs by modifying ingredients based on specific food intolerances. However, it's essential to consult a doctor or nutritionist before making changes to one's diet.


Stuffed eggplants sicilian art

The Perfect Main Course: Stuffed Eggplants


Ingredients:

  • 2 large eggplants

  • 250g of ground beef or pork

  • 1 onion

  • 1 garlic clove

  • 1 cup of breadcrumbs

  • 1/4 cup of grated cheese (Parmesan, pecorino, etc.)

  • 2 tablespoons of freshly chopped parsley

  • 1 egg

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • Olive oil

  • Tomato sauce (optional)


Procedure:

  • 1. Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise and scoop out the flesh with a spoon. Set the eggplant pulp aside.

  • 2. In a pan, sauté the chopped onion and garlic in some olive oil. Add the ground meat and cook until it's well browned.

  • 3. Add the chopped eggplant pulp to the pan and cook for about 10 minutes.

  • 4. In a bowl, mix the breadcrumbs, grated cheese, parsley, egg, salt, and pepper. Add the meat and eggplant mixture and mix well.

  • 5. Fill the hollowed-out eggplant halves with the meat and eggplant mixture. Place the stuffed eggplants in a baking dish.

  • 6. Drizzle some olive oil over the stuffed eggplants and bake in an oven at 180°C (350°F) for about 30-35 minutes, until they are well cooked and golden.

  • 7. Serve the stuffed eggplants with warm tomato sauce on the side, if desired.

Enjoy your meal!

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