Pasta with Aubergine in a Rich Tomato Sauce / Pasta con melanzana in una ricca salsa di pomodoro – (Pasta alla Norma)

Pasta with Aubergine in a Rich Tomato Sauce / Pasta con melanzana in una ricca salsa di pomodoro - (Pasta alla Norma)

This pasta takes its name from Bellini’s Opera “Norma”. Vincenzo Bellini was Sicilian, so his famous opera named this famous pasta. “I have eaten many variations of this dish in Sicily. It is very rich but is balanced by grated… aged pecorino. This is a real burst of Mediterranean flavours.” Maxine Clark

Credit: Adapted from a recipe in the book ‘The Italian Country Table’ by Maxine Clark.

Ingredients

  • 2 large aubergines diced into bite sized pieces
  • 500g fresh ripe tomatoes, skinned, deseeded and finely chopped (recommended) OR 2 x 400g cans of peeled cherry tomatoes in juice, drain but keep the juice.
  • 2 orange or yellow coloured bell peppers, deseeded and cut into slim 2 cm pieces
  • 1 large red onion, peeled and diced into small pieces
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 450g dried pasta, such as Italian linguini or vermicelli
  • olive oil for cooking
  • 100g of Italian passata
  • 20 black olives, rinsed and cut in half
  • Handful fresh basil leaves, roughly torn
  • 50g hard vegetarian pecorino (recommended) or hard cheddar cheese, finely grated
  • A handful of fresh Italian herbs: oregano and flat leaf parsley, stems removed and chopped thinly
  • Freshly ground black pepper and coarse sea salt
  • Italian extra virgin olive oil for dressing

Method

  1. Turn on oven at 180°C, gas mark 6
  2. Pour some olive oil into the base of two roasting dishes
  3. Put the aubergines in a colander, sprinkle with fine salt and let drain for 30 minutes.
  4. Rinse the aubergine cubes and pat them dry with kitchen paper.
  5. Add the aubergines to a roasting dish and the drained tomatoes and peppers into another
  6. Add a little more olive oil, salt and pepper and a pinch of each herb
  7. Mix by hand, shake the dishes and place them in the oven for about 30 minutes, stirring after 20 minutes, or until they are soft to a fork.
  8. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large sauté pan and add the onion and minced garlic. Cook on a low heat for about 8 minutes stirring frequently.
  9. Add the olives and stir.
  10. Take the tomatoes and peppers out of the oven and lightly crush the roasted tomatoes. Add them, and the peppers and all the juices from the roasting dishes, into the pan.
  11. Place the serving dishes / bowls into the switched off oven to keep warm.
  12. Add the drained tomato juice from the cans and the passata to the sauté pan and stir to mix. Warm up the mix on a low heat, stirring frequently for 5 minutes.
  13. Add the aubergines and mix thoroughly on a low heat.
  14. Meanwhile, bring a large stock pot of water to the boil and add a pinch of coarse salt before adding the pasta. Cover with a lid and bring back to the boil before removing the lid.
  15. Cook for about 10-12 minutes, or according to packet instructions and how soft you like pasta. Stir occasionally.
  16. When pasta is ready, drain in a colander, saving about 3 tablespoons of cooking water, then return to hot pan. Let it settle for 1 minute, stirring once or twice.
  17. Keep the sauté pan on a low heat and add the pasta, grated cheese and the basil to the pan of sauce and mix thoroughly until the cheese has melted.
  18. Turn off the heat
  19. Serve immediately onto warm dishes / bowls, and garnish with the basil leaves. Serving suggestions: Serve with green vegetables, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and, if desired, some extra vegetarian cheese on the side.
PastaAllaNorma01

Here is Ros’s review:

PastaAllaNorma02

Pasta alla Norma. I halved the quantities, used tinned tomatoes, dried oregano and parsley (because I forgot to buy fresh!) and hard cheddar.
Found this one a bit fiddly but I do only have limited kitchen space and not a lot of patience!! However, I persevered, and the end result was very lush. Roasting the vegs certainly enhanced the flavour. A little goes a long way though, so I had some left over for the next day. Overall score 8/10.
Hope these are useful John. Perhaps u need a section for the “alternative” versions!!
Lots a love to you both
from Ros and Bella the Cat xxx

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