Thursday, September 20, 2007


Seeing this lovely block of salted ricotta on sale in the salumeria this morning, it ocurred to me that I hadn't made pasta alla Norma - the dish named for Bellini's heroine - for a while. I have previously shown you a retaurant version of this dish; now here is mine. It is, more often than not, made with spaghetti, but I like to use penne pasta:

2 aubergines
coarse seasalt
c. half pint olive oil [You may need more as aubergines really soak it up. You can use half sunflower or groundnut oil if you wish, but it will change the taste.]
1 pint good, preferably homemade tomato sauce containing garlic
12 oz spaghetti, penne rigate or fusilli
4 - 6 oz salted ricotta, grated
about a teacupful fresh basil leaves, chopped roughly

Cut the unpeeled aubergines into rounds about half inch thick or into fairly thick sticks. Mary Taylor Simeti says the first way of slicing them is alla palermitana and the second the way of eastern Sicilians. [I chose the first.] Put them into a colander, sprinkle with plenty of salt, put a plate on top, pressing it down, and leave to drain for about an hour and a half. Rinse well, drain and dry the slices on kitchen paper. Heat the oil and fry the slices until softened and golden brown all over. Let them drain on kitchen paper. Cook the pasta in boiling, salted water till al dente. Drain, return to the pan and quickly stir in the sauce, basil and about half the grated ricotta. Transfer the mixture into a serving dish and arrange the aubergine slices on top. Sprinkle the rest of the grated ricotta over, plus a few shavings.

These quantities will serve 4 generously.


Anne in Oxfordshire said...

Delightful....will try this one. But one thing to ask, when you cook these big dishes what do you do with whats left over..

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, Anne. Have some the next day, freeze some... If I take off the top layer of cheese this will freeze OK. I find halving a recipe works out OK but quartering them makes most recipes not worth bothering with.

Ellee Seymour said...

I love aubergines, this is definitely one for me too. It's a good idea to cook a batch and freeze them.

James Higham said... occurred to me that I hadn't made pasta alla Norma - the dish named for Bellini's heroine - for a while...

You know, when I woke up this morning, that's exactly what I was thinking.

timothy said...

I love your blog. I read it daily but this is the first time I've commented. Though I live far away in Honolulu, Hawaii, I think I relate to the common denominators of island living. I also love your recipes. Last night I made your tomato chicken and rice recipe from the other day. Delicious. I will try this one soon. Thanks for passing it along.

PinkAcorn said...

I'm making your recipe this weekend! Sounds yummy!
I usually put eggplant in a Ratatouille type recipe I throw together.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, Ellee. I think there is nothing like the aroma of aubergines being cooked in olive oil. James, we must be telepahic techies! Timothy, how nice to meet you and thnk you so much for your kind words about my blog. You have quite made my night! Glad the recipes are working! Ciao, pink. Do post your ratatuille recipe for us!

jmb said...

Wow, half a pint of olive oil! But it looks really good. I am very fond of penne although I use whole wheat pasta now. Don't tell anyone WCLC but it's recommended on my diet (low carb--only whole grain anything).

Anonymous said...

I'm hungry now, damn it!

Sally said...

One of the all time great pasta recipes - and it reminded me we haven't had it for a bit either. It's sometimes hard to get salted ricotta outside Italy - I've found feta works just fine for Norma.

Whispering Walls said... aubergine.

Ellee Seymour said...

Why has James changed his name again? Fancy you and James sharing similar culinary dreams, that's uncanny.

Janejill said...

Sound delicious and simple enough for me to try; I have always salted aubergines and courgettes but didn't know about the saucer - this could make a big difference. (always an optimist) Nice to read your blog again Welshcakes x

lady macleod said...

That looks yummy. I love pasta in almost any form. This makes me miss Q - my private chef (sigh).

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, jmb. I like whole wheat pasta, too, though you don't see much of it here. Sorry, Ordo! Hi, Sally. That's a good tip about the feta if salted ricotta is unobtainable in other countries - thank you. Hi, WW. Me too! Ellee, both events are mysteries to me! Welcome back, janejill. Are you OK? Glad you like the recipe. Hi, Lady M. I'll come and cook for you if you like!


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