There are many stories as to how this pasta actually got it’s name, but the basic recipe which was created in Sicily is usually similar to this one. What sets this recipe apart from other pastas is the ricotta salata cheese that tops it, which can now be found in most Italian specialty stores.
In making ricotta salata, the milk curds and whey used to make this cheese are pressed and dried even before the cheese is aged, giving this pure white cheese a dense but slightly spongy texture and a salty, milky flavor that is somewhat like a dry feta cheese.
Deborah Mele 2011
Pasta alla Norma
A traditional Sicilian pasta dish that always includes eggplant and ricotta salata.
- 1 Pound Short Dry Pasta Such As Penne or Rigatoni
- 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1/2 Small Onion, Finely Chopped
- 3 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
- 1 (28oz) Can Chopped Tomatoes ( I prefer Pomi brand)
- 1/4 Cup Finely Chopped Basil
- 3 Small Eggplants, Cut Into 1 Inch Pieces
- Oil For Frying
- Salt & Pepper
- Red Pepper Flakes (Optional)
- 2 oz. Ricotta Salata Cheese
- Fresh Basil Leaves To Garnish
- To make the sauce, heat the 3 tablespoons of oil in a heavy saucepan, and saute the onions until tender.
- Add the garlic and hot pepper flakes, stir, then add the chopped tomatoes, basil, salt and pepper.
- Cook for 15 minutes or until the sauce has thickened.
- Cook the pasta in boiling, salted water, and while it is cooking fry the eggplant in 1/4 cup of the oil in a heavy skillet until golden and tender.
- Drain on paper towels and fold into the pasta sauce.
- Drain the pasta once it is cooked al dente and return it to the pan with half the sauce.
- Cook over medium heat until piping hot, and then serve in bowls, spooning the remaining sauce over the pasta.
- Sprinkle with the grated ricotta salata and garnish with basil leaves.