Pasta alla Norma

Hello, I’m Tony Mantuano, and we are going to do a classic Sicilian pasta called pasta alla Norma. This pasta dish comes from Catania, on the Eastern coast of Sicily, where one of its inhabitants, Vincenzo Bellini, wrote an opera called Norma.
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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 30 min
  • Active: 20 min
  • Yield: 6 servings
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Ingredients

1 pound Rigatoni pasta, bronze cut (Afeltra brand)

4 Italian eggplants

5 tablespoons olive oil, extra virgin

2 garlic cloves, smashed, peeled and roughly chopped

Red chili pepper, pinch

1 teaspoon dried oregano

3 cups tomato passato (peeled and seeded tomatoes)

1 basil leaves, small bunch, torn

Sea salt

Black pepper, freshly ground

1/2 cup Ricotta salata cheese, grated (to taste)

Directions

  1. Cook the pasta and sauce: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente, about 3 minutes less than what the box advises. Meanwhile, cut the eggplants into a large dice. Heat a skillet to high heat, add the olive oil, then the eggplant in one layer. Season with salt and pepper and add more oil if the pan becomes too dry. Continue cooking until eggplant is lightly brown. Add the garlic, chili pepper, dried oregano and stir to keep the garlic from browning. Add tomato passato, bring sauce back to a simmer and cook for 5 more minutes.
  2. Assemble the dish: When the sauce is finished cooking, turn off the heat and add the basil. Meanwhile, when the pasta is firm to the touch, reserve 1 cup pasta water (you will only need half). Drain the pasta and return it to the pot along with the sauce and ½ cup pasta water. Over low heat gently toss the pasta with the sauce for 2 minutes to allow it to "marry" and absorb some of the sauce. The dish is done when the pasta begins to stick to the bottom of the pot. Garnish with grated ricotta salata cheese and serve.