April 24

Pasta Alla Norma

So, the blog did not publish on April 17 in spite of my best efforts with scheduling. I’m finally back at home, having driven home on April 21. We spent a wonderful three weeks with our daughter, helping her move–family is what it is all about. I re-read book three in Montalbano series, and the latest–book number twenty-five.

The dish I am describing below, is a wonderful, Sicilian standard. There are several places in the books where Montalbano requests Pasta alla Norma at a restaurant. I don’t recall Adelina leaving it for him on the back of the stove, but it is a dish that tastes just as good reheated.

The version below is my own version and it is my husband’s favorite.

Leotta  Family Pasta alla Norma

1 pound rigatoni or your favorite cut of pasta…DeCecco brand is best, I think
1 medium eggplant (about 1-1.5 pounds total)

1/2 green pepper cut into strips
1 tablespoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
6-8 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes, 6 in 1 or Hunts

2 cups water
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, shredded or 3 T dry basil  

1 tsp capers

2 T cut up Kalamata olives or Sicilian dried olives

ricotta salata or pecorino romano for topping, to taste

Trim the stems from the eggplant. Remove strips of peel about 1 inch wide from the eggplants, leaving about half the peel intact. Cut the eggplant into 1-inch cubes, and toss in a large bowl with the kosher salt. Drain on paper towel. 

Saute the eggplant, garlic, green pepper, capers together in the olive oil until eggplant is browned.

Add the crushed tomatoes, water, basil and red pepper flakes. Stir frequently while simmering (uncovered) for at least an hour or until eggplant is soft but not lost to the sauce.

At the end of the hour, cover the suace, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat for the rigatoni. Cook according to directions. For best results, use DeCecco pasta. 

Drain the pasta and pour it into a bowl with about half of the sauce, tossing lightly to coat the pasta.  Add the rest of the sauce.

Plate the pasta, sprinkle with the grated cheese, (or let each person add their own) and serve.

Ricotta salata is a dry ricotta, beloved in Sicily and widely available in most Italian groceries in the USA. If you cannot find it, use Pecorino Romano, the grated cheese of choice for most Southern Italians.


Published by Jil

Joan Leotta is an author and story performer. Her books include a four-book series about strong women, Legacy of Honor, a collection of short stories, Simply a Smile, and a picture book, WHOOSH! for children that stresses the importance of parents, especially Dads.Her second picture book, Summer in a Bowl will be out in September. She’s a passionate shell collector and can often be found stooping over bits of beach near her home in Calabash. Joan is available to speak on writing , grief share or perform at schools, women’s groups, libraries and festivals, You can contact her at joanleotta@atmc.net or follow her blog at www.joanleotta.wordpress.comStoryteller

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