Thursday, 10 September 2015

Penne alla norma - Pasta with eggplants

More pasta today, and as the garden is invaded by the eggplants, I want to get out all the flavor while they are in season!

Talking about traditional dishes is easy and difficult at the same. They are easy because everybody knows them, but also difficult because every family has its own recipe, and there is always discussions on which is the best, if grand-mother’s or auntie’s. And you know that Italians like to chat about food!
I look forward to your comments, I am sure that some Sicilian friends of mine will give their advice.

I suggest to use a simple “passata” made of tomatoes and salt, no other herbs inside, but you can also use fresh or canned peeled tomatoes.
An other recommendation… I know you can find “ricotta salata” at deli shops. Get a nice piece, you can use the remaining for a salad! It has a very nice smell of fresh milk. Try to recognise this smell.


320 gr./ 0.70 lb penne or half penne (smaller...)
3 long eggplants, cut into round slices
700 grs/1.5 lb basic tomato sauce
2 cloves garlic (adjust to taste)
Vegetable oil to fry
100 grs. 3.5 oz Ricotta salata (grated)
About 10 basil leaves, plus some sprouts to garnish

  1)    Wash and cut the stems of the egg-plants, cut into round slices (1/4 inch) and put some salt on them.

  2)    Let them drain well for at least an 
hour, better two or three, they should loose the bitter taste. 
  Put something on them to push them down.

  3)    Dry with a tea towel and fry them in abundant vegetable oil until cooked / golden. They must remain soft.

  4)    Drain well on paper and keep warm.

5) In an other pan, gently golden the garlic, turn the gas  on a high heat, add the tomatoes and the basil leaves. Cook over  medium heat until the tomato sauce thickens, then add the fried egg-plants and cook for an extra 3-5 minutes. The sauce is ready.

  6) Cook your pasta in abundant salted water (10 grs/ liter)  - al dente – as shown on the packaging, drain it well in a colander and put it in the pan with the sauce immediately.

  7)    Stir well and add the fresh Ricotta salata. I prefer to taste this wonderful cheese, so I always grate it through a large grater. Stir in gently to melt the cheese.

8) A little more cheese on each portion will give a final touch! If you like you can decorate with basil leaves, but I forgot....



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