Pasta Norma is actually a Sicilian pasta, and it is named after Puccini’s opera “Norma” because it is thought that no other pasta has this perfect symphony of flavors.
For 2 or 3
Couple of Italian Eggplants, sliced
2ea Garlic Cloves, minced
3tbl Olive oil
1can San Marzano tomatoes, or plum tomatoes
1 bunch Fresh Basil
4slices Fresh Mozzarella di Buffala
3tbl Grated Parmesan
To taste Salt
To taste Pepper
1lb Penne pasta or pappardelle
The first thing that you want to do is salt your eggplant—give the slices a generous sprinkling of sea salt, set them in a colander and put a weight on it. Let them sit for about an hour—look for the dark water that seeps from the eggplants. This is an old grandma’s trick to take away the bitterness from the eggplants. You want to rinse off the slices and dry them thoroughly. By salting the eggplant, you will also use less oil when you cook them—eggplants are like big natural sponges, they will absorb as much as you put in the pan. While the eggplant is crying (yes, in Italian, that is what they call it). Open the can of tomatoes , put them in a pan on medium heat and reduce the liquid. When they have simmered for about 15 minutes, hit them with a burr mixer (or use a couple of forks) to puree them. Continue to reduce them until they are the consistency of watery ketchup. Slice the mozzarella.
Heat the olive oil in the sauté pan and add the eggplant, fry until mostly soft and a little brown, then add the garlic and continue cooking until the garlic is translucent. Add the tomatoes to the eggplant in the frying pan and simmer it all together. Cook the pasta (add enough salt so that the water tastes like sea water). Drain the pasta. Just before adding the pasta to the sauce, julienne the basil and add it to the sauce. Check for salt and pepper (yes, even though you salted the eggplant, the sauce is gonna want some salt). Add the pasta to the sauce and toss. Add some Parmesan cheese and toss again. Then portion it out onto plates and put the buffalo mozzarella on top. Add more Parmesan.
Note: Don’t take seriously the print on the reverse side of the lb of pasta that says “5 to 6 servings” who are they kidding? I would say 1 lb of pasta will serve 3 nicely.
These are most of the ingredients + the knife that I got from my friendly housewares vendor:
They really julienne great!
Here’s a shot of the progress:
Then we plate—always check for salt and pepper!