Penne alla Norma

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Tradition has it that this dish was invented in Sicily and was named in honour of Bellini’s famous opera, Norma. You can use any sort of pasta but the best is a chunky, liquid-catching shape like penne to match the sauce.

Fresh from the garden: eggplant, basil, oregano, onion, garlic
Recipe source: from the classics!

Equipment:

·       Large stockpot with lid, saucepan and large frying pan

·       Measures: cup, ½ cup, tablespoon, ¼ teaspoon

·       Chopping boards and knives

·       A selection of mixing bowls

·       Salad spinner

·       Scales

·       Cheese grater

·       Spatula

·       Serving bowls

Ingredients:

·       3/4 cup olive oil & more to drizzle

·       1 onion

·       2 garlic cloves

·       Small handful oregano

·       Cooking & flaked salt & black pepper

·       2 tins of chopped tomatoes

·       ¼ teaspoon dried chilli flakes

·       500g rigatoni or penne

·       500g eggplant – 1 large or several small

·       1/2 cup basil leaves plus a few extra to garnish

·       60g ricotta salata or fresh pecorino

·       45g parmesan or grana padano

What to do:

  1. Fill the stockpot with water and set it to boil with the lid on. When boiling, add in a tablespoon of cooking salt and the pasta, and boil the pasta for 12 minutes until al dente.
  2. Peel and finely chop the onion. Crush the garlic cloves, peel them and finely chop. Wash and spin-dry the oregano, and then strip the leaves off the stalks.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a saucepan and cook the onion and a few pinches of flaked salt and grind of pepper over gentle heat for 5 minutes until softened. Stir in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the tomato and chilli flakes. Reduce the heat to low and cook for about 15 minutes until the sauce has thickened and reduced.
  4. Meanwhile, wash the eggplants, wipe them dry and cut lengthways into 1cm thick slices, then 1cm strips, and then 1cm cubes.
  5. Heat the remaining olive oil in a frying pan. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the eggplant cubes a few at a time and cook for about 3 minutes until lightly browned. Remove from the pan with the slotted spoon and add the cubes to the tomato sauce, stirring over very low heat for 5 minutes.
  6. Wash the basil, and strip off the leaves. Spin them dry, then tear them into small pieces and add to the eggplant sauce, reserving a few leaves for garnish.
  7. Measure the ricotta salata or pecorino and crumble it into a small bowl. Measure the parmesan cheese then grate it.
  8. Drain the pasta, reserving 1/3 cup of the cooking water, then add all to the sauce with half each of the ricotta and pecorino and toss together well.
  9. Serve immediately, sprinkled with the remaining cheeses and extra basil and a little drizzle of oil.
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