Pasta with aubergine & tomatoes

Pasta with aubergine & tomatoes

By
From
Sicily
Serves
4 as a main course or 6 as a starter

This glorious pasta dish was made to honour Vincenzo Bellini, the composer of the opera Norma, who was born in Catania in 1801. It ticks all the boxes for an outstanding dish in Sicilian cuisine; short, bouncy pasta is tossed with crispy-edged aubergine (eggplant), sweet tomato sauce, basil and salty ricotta cheese. I have used coarsely grated feta as I can’t find ricotta salata in my local shops, but do seek it out online or in Italian delis. It has a crumbly texture and a tangy flavour. This is the way chef Roberto Toro cooked his Pasta alla Norma at the stunning Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo in Taormina.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
1 small shallot, peeled but left whole
1 fat garlic clove, peeled and crushed
1 sprig basil
a small handful basil leaves, to garnish
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 x 400g tin cherry tomatoes
or 400g fresh, blanched and peeled tomatoes
salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon caster sugar, Optional
seed oil, for deep-frying
1 large aubergine, topped and tailed and cut into 2 cm cubes
320g pasta such as penne or spaghetti

To serve

Quantity Ingredient
100g feta cheese, coarsely grated
few extra basil leaves
extra-virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper

Method

  1. Put the shallot, garlic cloves, basil sprig and olive oil together in a pan and heat gently for a couple of minutes until you can smell the flavourings. Add the tomatoes to the pan and continue to cook gently for around 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and a little sugar if the tomatoes are too acidic.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the seed oil to around 175˚C and fry the aubergine cubes until golden. This will only take a few minutes. Scoop out the aubergines with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.
  3. Put the pasta on to cook in a large pan of boiling well-salted water. Cook until tender according to the manufacturer’s suggestions. Remove the onion and garlic from the oil and discard. Add the aubergines to the sauce and stir through gently.
  4. Add the cooked, drained pasta and stir or toss again to combine. Serve in warm bowls with the feta, a few extra basil leaves, a swirl of olive oil and a twist of black pepper.
  5. Roasted aubergines:

    If you prefer not to deep-fry the aubergines, preheat the oven to 200˚C. Toss the aubergines in a large bowl with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and seasoning. Pour onto a tray lined with baking parchment and spread out well so they aren’t piled up or they will steam. Put into the oven to roast for around 30 minutes or until they appear lightly crisp and golden brown. Add to the tomato sauce as before.
Tags:
Italy
Italian
Sicily
Sicilian
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