Saturday, April 30, 2011

#32 - Pasta alla Norma

We wanted to cook a new pasta, and we were over at Mamu and Nonno's house so we decided to look into a cookbook that we didn't have at home. We've used Giuliano Hazan's recipes before, but this was the first time we could use one of his mom's recipes.

Pasta alla Norma

From Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking
When we copied down the recipe, we didn't remember to write down what Marcella called it, but googling the ingredients, we found that it's a variation of a dish called Pasta alla Norma. Traditionally, that would use ricotta salata, but this version used a good old-fashioned wet ricotta.
After chopping the eggplant, the first step is to salt it, and let it sit for an hour. Then, you rinse them and squeeze out the liquid in a dish towel. If you plan on making this pasta, you might want to designate an eggplant wringing towel because the one we used got pretty dirty.
After draining the eggplant, you fry it (delicious), and then add it to a sauce (delicious), and toss it with the pasta and cheeses (delicious).
So how did it come out? You guessed it - delicious. Fried eggplant, tomatoes, and cheese can't be bad, but this did come together really well, and it went perfectly with spaghetti. Next time we want a classic Italian meal, we'll be borrowing that Marcella Hazan cookbook again.Here's you can make it yourself:
  • 1 eggplant
  • Salt
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup onion, sliced very thin
  • 1 1/2 tsp garlic, chopped
  • 2 cups canned plum tomatoes, drained and cut into strips without their juices
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lb spaghetti
  • 3 Tbs freshly grated pecorino romano cheese
  • 3 Tbs ricotta cheese
  • 8 to 10 basil leaves
  1. Peel the eggplant and cut into 1 1/2 inch thick cubes.
  2. Place the cubes in a colander, sprinkle them liberally with salt, and let them sit in the sink for at least 1 hour.
  3. After the hour, scoop up a handful of the cubes, rinse them in cold water, and then squeeze out all the moisture using a dish towel.
  4. Lay the eggplant cubes on a clean dry towel or paper towels.
  5. Pour enough vegetable oil into a large frying pan to come up 1/2 inch up the sides, and heat on medium-high.
  6. When the oil is hot, slip in as many of the eggplant cubes as can fit loosely in the pan, fry them until tender, and then remove to paper towels. Repeat as necessary until all the eggplant has cooked.
  7. Pour off the vegetable oil, and then add the olive oil and sliced onions.
  8. Cook over medium-high heat until the onions have become light gold.
  9. Add the garlic, and cook for a few seconds.
  10. Add the tomatoes, turn the heat to high, and cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring frequently.
  11. Add the eggplant, turn the heat down to medium, and cook for a minute or two.
  12. Taste the sauce, correct for salt, and add some freshly ground black pepper.
  13. Cook the spaghetti in salted boiling water, strain, and toss with the eggplant sauce, the pecorino, the ricotta, and the basil.

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