"This simple Sicilian pasta dish sings with the taste of summer using the goodness of tomatoes captured in passata and beautiful ripe eggplant fried and cooked in the rich sauce with garlic, basil and olive oil. Our friend, chef Guy Grossi (Grossi Florentino and more) made the most wonderful fresh pasta to accompany it - garganelli - but any other short pasta will work well. Seek out the adored ricotta salata cheese to serve - this is salted dried ricotta which grates perfectly to add another layer of deliciousness." Maeve O'Meara, Food Safari Earth
Hailing from Sicily, garganelli alla Norma will make your pasta nights interesting again, combining eggplant and a creamy ricotta salata topping.
- 2 eggplant
- 200 ml extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
- 1 long red chilli, halved
- 30 g flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
- 1 bunch basil, leaves picked and torn
- 80 g tomato paste
- 2 x 750 ml bottles passata
- freshly ground black pepper
- 800 g garganelli (penne or maccheroni)
- ricotta salata, to serve
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Peel the eggplants and cut into rough 2 cm chunks. Place into a colander over a bowl, sprinkle with salt and stand for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat 50 ml olive oil in a heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 3-4 minutes or until softened. Add the garlic and continue to cook until the onions caramelise. Add the celery, chilli, parsley and half the basil. Cook for 3 minutes or until the celery softens. Add the tomato paste, then the passata. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer gently for 20 minutes or until the sauce develops in flavour.
While the sauce is cooking, heat the remaining oil in a frying pan over high heat. Fry the eggplant in batches until golden, making sure you don’t overcrowd the pan. Add to the sauce and cook for another 10 minutes. Season to taste.
Cook the pasta in salted boiling water until al dente. Strain and return to the pan. Add the sauce and mix through well. Scatter with the remaining torn basil and finely shave the ricotta salata over the top. Drizzle with extra oil and serve.
Photography by Sharyn Cairns. Styling by Lee Blaylock. Food preparation by Emma Warren. Creative concept by Belinda So.