The Diva pasta … pasta alla Norma

Pasta alla Norma comes from Sicily and, in particular, from Catania.  Rumours still abide that it was the Sicilian writer, publisher, journalist and producer of theatrical works, Nino Martoglio, who came up with ‘title’ for this pasta sauce, comparing it to the sublime of Vincenzo Bellini’s opera piece “Norma”.  It is indeed very much a ‘diva’ pasta dish for the summer, expressing itself through the ultra summery ingredients of aubergines and ripe tomatoes.  We forget that until relatively recently, aubergines and tomatoes were available only during the hottest months of the year.

While you peruse the recipe, you might want to listen to the incomparable Maria Callas, a diva herself, and her rendering of the ‘Casta Diva’ song from “Norma” on this link:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RK0vRy0S4Kk

Below are the lyrics too … You can skip all this, on the other hand, and go straight down to where the photos start.

Casta Diva che inargenti
queste sacre antiche piante
a noi volgi il bel sembiante
senza nube e senza vel.
Tempra, o Diva,
tempra tu de’ cori ardenti
tempra ancor lo zelo audace
spargi in terra quella pace
che regnar tu fai nel ciel.

Fine al rito : e il sacro bosco
Sia disgombro dai profani.
Quando il Nume irato e fosco,
Chiegga il sangue dei Romani,
Dal Druidico delubro
La mia voce tuonerà.
Cadrà; punirlo io posso.
(Ma, punirlo, il cor non sa.
Ah! bello a me ritorna
Del fido amor primiero;
E contro il mondo intiero…
Difesa a te sarò.
Ah! bello a me ritorna
Del raggio tuo sereno;
E vita nel tuo seno,
E patria e cielo avrò.
Ah, riedi ancora qual eri allora,
Quando il cor ti diedi allora,
Ah, riedi a me.)

PASTA ALLA NORMA

Good quality pasta …

Ripe tomatoes, just off the vine, cut in half …

Salsa di pomodoro … tomato sauce, the best quality you can find.  Barring that, make your own sugo from scratch.

Ricotta salta … fresh ricotta that is dry-cured with salt.

Sauté some garlic in olive oil (the pepper corns are optional).

Add the fresh tomatoes and the tomato sauce and cook for about 20 minutes, seasoning with salt and, only if required, a little bit of sugar.

Cut the aubergines into cubes.

Dredge the aubergine cubes in flour.

Shake off the excess flour using a sieve.

Fry the aubergines in plenty of oil.  Drain and set aside.  Do NOT salt — not now.

When the tomato sauce (‘sugo’) is almost ready, add a few leaves of basil.

Remove the pasta from the boiling water when it is still very much ‘al dente’ and then place directly into the tomato sauce to finish cooking.  If the sauce dries out, you can add a little of the cooking water.

Here is the serving platter.  I fried some of the aubergines as slices, too, to act as ‘garnish’ for the presentation of the dish.  Now is the time to add a sprinkle of salt.

Cut the ricotta salata into thin slices and scatter over the top of the pasta.  Leave extra ricotta salata on a plate on the table, so that people can add more if they want to.

The basil adds freshness …

Served in an individual plate.

This is how I made spaghetti alla norma, last year:

https://myhomefoodthatsamore.wordpress.com/2011/08/11/pasta-alla-norma/

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About myhomefoodthatsamore

Community celebration via food, wine and all beautiful things.
This entry was posted in italian home food, Primi (first courses - usually a pasta or risotto), Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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