Pasta Alla Norma (eggplant and Tomato Pasta)

 

This dish, one of Sicily's most famous, is named after Bellini's 19th-century opera, Norma, which is widely considered the composer's best achievement. The final -- and most essential -- touch to Pasta alla Norma is a dusting of salted ricotta (ricotta salata). If you can't find ricotta salata, you can use Parmesan or caciocavallo -- but purists will point out that the flavor substitution isn't authentic. Don't skimp when salting and frying the eggplant -- the result is a wonderful sauce with a creamy, melt-in-your-mouth texture.

What you will need

1 large eggplant (or 2 finger eggplants)

Salt, to taste

Olive oil for frying

2 garlic cloves, peeled and squashed

One 14-ounce (400 grams) can of chopped tomatoes

11 ounces (320 grams) rigatoni, penne, or maccheroncini pasta

3 ounces (80 grams) grated ricotta salata

8 to 10 basil leaves, torn

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