pasta alla nora
DeCecco pasta packages always have a recipe on the
back of the box. A few of them have found their way into the dr bob food files, but like
most of the stuff there, never got used. Penne alla norma is one of them. An eggplant
pasta sauce from Sicily. Who knows what "norma" means (certainly unrelated to
"Norma Jean", for example)¹. Of course we do make eggplant pasta sauces but for
some reason always improvise.
This time the new sister-in-law had made a really tasty eggplant side dish. Confirming
her promise as a source of delicious new family food ideas. So the eggplant recently
acquired with pasta in mind was recruited for this experiment the following night. We
called her up for her ingredient lineup. It was simple. And it was good.
We used cavatelli because we were experiencing a glut from hoarding hand carried high
quality Puglia pasta from Italy inspired by exaggerated US prices for the stuff
(orecchiette and cavatelli). Gnocchi would have been an equally valid choice, and if we
can trust DeCecco's cardboard box recipe, penne as well.
- 1 lb penne, cavatelli, gnocchi, whatever
- 1 large eggplant, skinned, cut into 1 cm cubes
- 2-3 T olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic (1 big one)
- 1 big can pelati (peeled Italian plum tomatoes)
- 1 T tomato paste stirred into pelati liquid
- red pepper (not too much)
- black pepper
- 1/3 c freshly ground parmigiano
- Get the pasta water boiling and cook the pasta al dente when the water is ready, with
- Prepare the eggplant.
- In a large chef's pan if you have one, sauté the onion and garlic in olive oil until
softened, then dump in the eggplant cubes and cook say 5 minutes.
- Dump in the pelati and the tomato paste and the spices and cook for about 20 minutes or
so. Check for spices.
- Mix in the cooked drained pasta and parmigiano if your pan is big enough or vice versa if
- Serve with some extra cheese on each serving.
- A few days later the last Book and the Cook Show of the 20th century added "The Dictionary of Italian Food and Drink" to
the dr bob team cooking library, a prize that had been wanting for years. It seems that
pasta alla norma may have been created to commemorate the Bellini opera Norma (1821). Who
would have thought an answer to this question would come so soon?