Serious Pasta alla Norma (page 2 of 2)Home >> Recipes
Place a large frying pan on a hot fire and add 4 tbsp olive oil. Crush half the garlic into the oil and let it brown slowly. When the garlic is dry and medium-brown, remove it and discard it (photo). The point is to flavor the oil. Don't let the garlic become black, that would be very bitter.
Peel and slice the eggplants crosswise. Cut half in small dices and the rest in nice 1 cm / 0.5'' thick slices. Place the eggplants in the frying pan (photo) and fry over medium-high heat for as long as it takes for them to be soft and browned on both sides.
Meanwhile, in a separate saucepan, fry the rest of the crushed garlic with 30 gr diced guanciale or pancetta or a finely chopped small onion.photo). Season with salt and pepper or a pinch of red chili flakes and a little thyme or oregano or some snipped basil. The seasoning depends on your taste, tomato sauces are very personal things!
Cook and drain the pasta, crumble the ricotta and snip the basil using scissors (a knife and board would ruin their taste for reasons still left unexplained). Heat your serving plates and summon the guests.
Carefully place a portion of pasta on each plate. Garnish with a few spoonfuls tomato sauce. Sprinkle a generous amount of ricotta over the tomato sauce and cover with the diced eggplants. Sprinkle a tablespoon snipped basil over the top, then add the eggplant slices for effect and finish with a particularly nice whole basil leaf.
Although I go to great lengths to build an attractive pile on each plate, the dish really takes off when the guests combine the ingredients with their fork.
This is a dish that makes you cry and sing and bang your head against the floor all at the same time - it is that good. A real Sicilian cult classic!
update: Here is another time I did Pasta alla Norma for some friends. Too much pasta, not enough time. I served it on a large platter.