This traditionally Sicilian dish, supposedly named after Bellini’s opera ‘norma’. It offers a great vegetarian recipe; simple and with only a few ingredients but full of authentic Italian flavour. Ricotta salata, a fantastic dry salted ricotta is traditionally used for its pungent crumbly texture, but feta would substitute well, as would parmesan as we’ve done. It’s a super speedy nutritious meal to have on the dinner table in no time.
- 2 aubergines, cubed
- 2tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1tbspdried oregano
- 1tsp dried chili flakes
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
- Large bunch of fresh basil, torn
- 2 cans chopped tomatoes
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 500g pack of dried penne
- Parmesan cheese, for garnishing
First, fry the cubes of aubergines in batches in a hot pan adding oil as needed. Once all cooked, transfer to one pan and add garlic and cook for further 2mins. Sprinkle over oregano and chilli flakes. Add tomatoes and simmer for 10-15mins until thickened. Add half the torn basil leaves and take off heat. Set aside.
Meanwhile cook spaghetti according to packet instructions and strain, reserving a cup full of the cooking water.
Add spaghetti to pan of sauce and mix to coat well, adding the cooking water if needed to loosen. Serve in bowls with extra basil torn over the top and a grating of fresh parmesan.
Top tip for making Pasta alla norma
If you want a smoother sauce, blitz up the tinned tomatoes in a blender before adding to sauce. Alternatively try using tinned passata.