Rigatoni with Sautéed Eggplant and Ricotta Salata (Rigatoni alla Norma)

Notes: 

This dish was named in honor of the Sicilian composer Bellini, for his opera "Norma." We were served Rigatoni alla Norma at La Battiata, a wonderful Family-owned ristorante at the gates of the Piazza Armerina in Sicily. Hanging on the sign below the restaurant was the phrase Cucina Casalinga, which means, "homestyle cooking". This delighted me because it is also the name of my cooking school.

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Ingredients

For the TOMATO SAUCE (Tip: can be made ahead of time):

  • ¼ cup of olive oil
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 28-ounce can of San Marzano plum tomatoes crushed with a fork
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 4 basil leaves torn and more for garnish

For the PASTA AND EGGPLANT:

  • 2 small eggplants, thinly sliced
  • Salt
  • 2 cups or more of olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 1 pound of rigatoni pasta
  • 1 cup of grated Ricotta Salata or 1 cup of freshly grated Romano cheese

 

Directions

For the TOMATO SAUCE:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan, add the onion and garlic, and sauté until translucent. 
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