Pasta alla Norma
One of the staples of Sicilian cuisine is the eggplant. I had heard that Sicilians are mad for them and even though I had tried eggplants a couple of times before, I didn’t really like them…but seriously, Sicilians know how to cook them!!!

I didn’t know about this dish until I met my husband about 12 years ago.  My Sicilian mother-in-law cooked it once when I went over for dinner and I fell in love with it.  It is a typical Sicilian dish and it is amazingly simple and full of flavour!

It epitomises the Summer harvest in Sicily – fresh eggplants, fresh tomatoes and basil! It is yet another example of simple ingredients coming together to create a delightful combination of flavours.

Sprinkling some fried eggplant on top of a basic sauce and pasta dish is a great way to turn your mid week dinner into an exotic Sicilian feast! As a healthier alternative, you could grill the eggplant.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

    • 400g short pasta eg. penne, rigatoni
    • 1 bottle of passata tomato sauce
    • 1 brown onion, finely chopped
    • 1 tbsp olive oil
    • 1 bunch of fresh basil leaves
    • salt and pepper to taste
    • 1 large eggplant, cut into 2cm cubes or sliced
    • enough sunflower oil for frying
    • finely grated parmesan, about 1-3 tablespoons per person, depending on preference
Method:

        1. Heat olive oil in a saucepan on high heat. Add onion and cook for about 1-2 minutes until soft and translucent.
        2. Add passata sauce and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for about 20 minutes until the sauce has thickened. Add salt and pepper to taste and tear about half the bunch of basil leaves and add to sauce in the last 5 minutes of cooking.
        3. In the meantime, bring large pot of water to boil. About 4 litres. Add about 1tbsp of salt to water. Add the pasta and cook according to the packet instructions.
        4. In a separate frying pan, heat enough sunflower oil for frying the eggplant. Add the eggplant to the hot oil and fry on all sides until golden brown. Once cooked, strain on some kitchen paper and season lightly with salt.
        5. Drain the pasta and stir through a little of the sauce. Divide the pasta into 4 pasta dishes. Top with some parmesan, more sauce, some fried eggplant and a couple of basil leaves.