Pasta alla Norma

A classic of the Italian cuisine, known all over the world. It combines some of the typical Sicilian flavors: eggplant, tomatoes and savoury ricotta. There are a few interesting speculations on the origin of the name ‘norma’. According to one of them, it refers to the fact it’s ‘perfectly done’ or has ‘excellent taste’, where ‘norma’ has the meaning of ‘norm’. As reported by another interesting theory, it seems to take inspiration from an opera piece, that was particularly appreciated in Sicily. Whichever you prefer, it’s really a classic you don’t want to miss out.

This is an extremely light and healthy version of the Pasta alla Norma recipe if compared to the original. No frying necessary, and such a yummy taste!

 

Ingredients for 2 servings

  • 160 g of whole wheat pasta, I’m using whole wheat farfalle, you can use any other kind you like. In case you are celiac choose a gluten-free version.
  • 1 large eggplant/aubergine, cut into ½ cm discs
  • 12 cherry tomatoes or 2 large tomatoes, diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, in halves without the green germ
  • a splash or agave syrup, or any other plant-based sweetener or your choice
  • 1 Tbsp of extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • a handful of fresh basil leaves

For the plant-based cheesy sprinkle

  • 50 g of cashew nuts
  • 1 tsp of nutritional yeast
  • ½ tsp of garlic powder
  • salt to taste

Optional for the vegetarian version

  • 50 gr of ricotta salata, grated. In case you can’t find it, you can use some parmesan cheese.

 

Method

Cut the eggplants into discs, carve them lightly with a knife, season, and drizzle with some olive oil. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes at 200° C, until golden brown.

Using a mortar and pestle, combine and reduce to powder the ingredients for the plant-based cheesy sprinkle. Skip this passage in case you prefer to use the ricotta salata.

Add the olive oil to a pan and caramelize the garlic on a low heat. Add the tomatoes, the sweetener and season. Let the tomatoes soften, then remove the garlic, and let it cool. In a high speed mini blender or traditional blender, blend the tomatoes with all its juices for about 1 minute, then put the sauce you obtained back inside the pan.

Meanwhile prepare the pasta, boiling it in salted water, deducting 2 minutes from your package instructions, to keep it ‘al dente’. Taste to check if it’s cooked properly and drain.

Add the pasta to the tomato sauce and stir for 1 minute. Serve the pasta on a dish, topping it with the eggplant discs, the plant-based cheesy sprinkle or the ricotta salata, and decorate with a few basil leaves.

 

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