"Pasta alla Norma" recipe

“Pasta alla Norma” recipe

    • Prep Time
    • Minutes
    • Cook Time
    • Minutes

Total Cost: UK/£ 8.74*

Cost/portion: UK/£ 2.19*

Utensils you will need

One 4lt saucepan
One strainer
One fork
One small bowl
One spoon
One chef knife
One paring knife
One chopping board
One large frying pan
One kitchen cloth
One zester or grater
One pestle and mortar
One wooden spatula or silicon spatula
One skimmer
One ladle or a jug

Note for the users: please click on the label “HOW TO” to watch the slide-show of each cooking step.

* Please note that both total cost and cost per portion are approximate and that can vary according to seasons and to different conditions.

Recipe Rating

  • (1 Rating)

Ingredients

  • for the sauce

  • Peeled plum tomatoes (San Marzano, tinned, and with their own juice) - 400gr

  • Salt - 1gr

  • Black pepper corns - 3gr

  • Salted ricotta cheese - 150gr

  • in alternative, use Parmigiano cheese.
  • "Suited garlic”cloves - 5

  • Fresh basil sprigs - to taste [part1 of 2]

  • Extra virgin olive oil - 50gr

  • Fresh basil sprigs - to taste [part2 of 2]

  • Sunflower oil - 750ml (for frying)

  • in alternative, use extra virgin olive oil, but preferably do not use general frying oil.
  • Aubergines - 2 large

  • Salt - 2gr

  • Fresh basil sprigs - to taste [part2 of 2]

  • for the pasta

  • Rigatoni- 360gr

  • in alternative, Mezze Maniche, rigatoni or any short shaped pasta.
  • Water - 5lt

  • Salt - 40gr

Instructions

  • 1.
    Putting the water to boil

    • Water - 5lt (for the pasta)

      Put the water for pasta to boil on a high power heat: you will salt it later when it will come to a stable boil (step 1 - pic. A).

      Note about salt and water for pasta

      If you think you might forget to salt water before adding pasta, you can salt water right after putting it on heat. This can become a safe routine, but the commonly unknown result of this is that it will require a longer time to come to the boiling temperature of 100ºC. It would be better instead to wait for the boiling to start and then carefully add the salt. The addiction of salt at this stage causes a sudden increase of the temperature of the solution for a couple of seconds during which the water increases the bubbling and risks to pour out if the pan’s sides are not sufficiently high.

      So the right pan should be taller than its diameter and capacious enough to contain a good amount of water.

      The minimum ratio between water and pasta is 1lt every 100gr. Although, for small amount of pasta it’s better to use a fairly large and deep pan which will keep the water to temperature also after dropping the pasta in. So that’s why I prefer to use 5lt of water even just to cook a single portion of pasta.

      Another important detail of which to take care, is the right quantity of salt to add to the water. It depends on the quantity of salt the condiment for pasta is going to contain and the cooking time that pasta requires; not only on your personal taste.

      A normal dose of salt is 11-12gr per litre of water and it can be increased to a maximum of 14-15gr for those who like their food to be particularly savoury. When using ingredients which are already salty themselves, like bacon or ham, the dose can be lowered to a minimum of 9-10gr per litre of water, as well as when you know that you will bind pasta with a lot of its own cooking water.

      Keep also in mind that longer cooking time require smaller doses of salt whereas quicker cooking will need a larger dose.

  • 2.
    Crushing the black pepper and grating the salted ricotta cheese

    • Black pepper corns - 3gr Salted ricotta cheese - 150gr

      Finely crush the black pepper corns with pestle and mortar (step 2 - pic. A).
      Grate the salted ricotta cheese and set aside (step 2 - pic. B).

  • 3.
    Cooking the tomatoes and chopping the aubergines

    • Peeled plum tomatoes (San Marzano, tinned, and with their own juice) - 400gr
    • Salt - 1gr
    • Fresh basil sprigs - to taste [part1 of 2]
    • Extra virgin olive oil - 50gr
    • The crushed black pepper - 2 pinches
    • Fresh basil sprigs - to taste [part2 of 2]
    • Sunflower oil - 750ml (for frying)
      in alternative, use extra virgin olive oil, but preferably do not use general frying oil.

    • Aubergines - 2 large
    • Salt - 2gr

      Put the frying pan with the extra virgin olive oil on a gentle low heat. Add the basil and two garlic cloves (step 3 - pic. A).
      Put the saucepan with the sunflower oil over a medium-high heat. Add the basil and the garlic cloves to it. Let it get to 150°C - 170°C (step 3 - pic. B).
      Add the peeled plum tomatoes into the frying pan and stir evenly (step 3 - pic. C).
      Season with salt and black pepper, stir evenly and crush the tomatoes with a wooden spoon or a spatula. Then, let the juices reduce slowly over a gentle heat (step 3 - pic. D).
      Thoroughly wash the aubergines under fresh running water and dry them with a kitchen towel. Chop off their top green end, then cut the longwise ion quarters (halve them if they are too thin) (step 3 - pic. E).
      Dice them in piece  about 2cm thick, then season them with salt and set aside (step 3 - pic. F).

  • 4.
    Frying the aubergines

    • The chopped and seasoned aubergines
    • The hot and flavoured sunflower oil

      When the oil gets to a temperature between 150°C and 170°C, start frying the aubergines a few at a time (step 4 - pic. A).
      Let them soften and brown slightly on the edges, then take them out, drain them thoroughly with a skimmer and let them rest over some kitchen paper to absorb the excess of oil (step 4 - pic. B).
      You might want to start boiling the pasta while still frying the last aubergines.

  • 5.
    Boiling the pasta and binding it to the sauce

    • The boiling water
    • Salt - 40gr
    • Rigatoni- 360gr
    • The fried aubergines
    • The tomato sauce in the frying pan
    • Fresh basil sprigs - to taste [part2 of 2]
    • The grated ricotta cheese

      Salt the water as soon as the water starts boiling, then let it boil vividly again (step 5 - pic. A).
      Drop in the pasta and stir immediately and keep stirring frequently for the first few minutes to prevent the pasta sticking to each other (step 5 - pic. B).
      The pasta will take from ten 10 to 15 minutes to cook, so you have time enough to finish frying the aubergines. Collect a few basil leaves, tear them off by hands and add them to the tomato sauce just before straining the pasta (step 5 - pic. C).
      One minute before the rigatoni get properly cooked “al dente”, strain them directly into the frying pan with the sauce. Alternatively, collect come cooking liquor into a jug and drain the pasta with a strainer. Do not let them dry out completely while finishing the cooking. If needed, add half a ladle of liquor to the frying pan and stir evenly over the maximum heat possible (step 5 - pic. D).
      When the sauce has reduced and has coated the rigatoni, add all the fried aubergines together with a generous part of the salted ricotta cheese you have grated already. Then, stir evenly for perfectly binding the pasta and the sauce (step 5 - pic. E).
      Rest the pasta for a minute and serve sprinkling some more ricotta cheese on top.

      Note about the correct cooking point "al dente”

      “Al dente” literally means “to the tooth”. It indicates the perfect consistency that pasta, or any other food, should have at the end of the cooking process: not too soft and not too hard at chewing. Pasta cooked “al dente” maintains a harder consistency at the centre of the dough sheet which gives the diners a pleasant feeling of “biting” rather than “mushing” something under their teeth..

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Instructions

  • 1.
    Putting the water to boil

    • Water - 5lt (for the pasta)

      Put the water for pasta to boil on a high power heat: you will salt it later when it will come to a stable boil (step 1 - pic. A).

      Note about salt and water for pasta

      If you think you might forget to salt water before adding pasta, you can salt water right after putting it on heat. This can become a safe routine, but the commonly unknown result of this is that it will require a longer time to come to the boiling temperature of 100ºC. It would be better instead to wait for the boiling to start and then carefully add the salt. The addiction of salt at this stage causes a sudden increase of the temperature of the solution for a couple of seconds during which the water increases the bubbling and risks to pour out if the pan’s sides are not sufficiently high.

      So the right pan should be taller than its diameter and capacious enough to contain a good amount of water.

      The minimum ratio between water and pasta is 1lt every 100gr. Although, for small amount of pasta it’s better to use a fairly large and deep pan which will keep the water to temperature also after dropping the pasta in. So that’s why I prefer to use 5lt of water even just to cook a single portion of pasta.

      Another important detail of which to take care, is the right quantity of salt to add to the water. It depends on the quantity of salt the condiment for pasta is going to contain and the cooking time that pasta requires; not only on your personal taste.

      A normal dose of salt is 11-12gr per litre of water and it can be increased to a maximum of 14-15gr for those who like their food to be particularly savoury. When using ingredients which are already salty themselves, like bacon or ham, the dose can be lowered to a minimum of 9-10gr per litre of water, as well as when you know that you will bind pasta with a lot of its own cooking water.

      Keep also in mind that longer cooking time require smaller doses of salt whereas quicker cooking will need a larger dose.

  • 2.
    Crushing the black pepper and grating the salted ricotta cheese

    • Black pepper corns - 3gr Salted ricotta cheese - 150gr

      Finely crush the black pepper corns with pestle and mortar (step 2 - pic. A).
      Grate the salted ricotta cheese and set aside (step 2 - pic. B).

  • 3.
    Cooking the tomatoes and chopping the aubergines

    • Peeled plum tomatoes (San Marzano, tinned, and with their own juice) - 400gr
    • Salt - 1gr
    • Fresh basil sprigs - to taste [part1 of 2]
    • Extra virgin olive oil - 50gr
    • The crushed black pepper - 2 pinches
    • Fresh basil sprigs - to taste [part2 of 2]
    • Sunflower oil - 750ml (for frying)
      in alternative, use extra virgin olive oil, but preferably do not use general frying oil.

    • Aubergines - 2 large
    • Salt - 2gr

      Put the frying pan with the extra virgin olive oil on a gentle low heat. Add the basil and two garlic cloves (step 3 - pic. A).
      Put the saucepan with the sunflower oil over a medium-high heat. Add the basil and the garlic cloves to it. Let it get to 150°C - 170°C (step 3 - pic. B).
      Add the peeled plum tomatoes into the frying pan and stir evenly (step 3 - pic. C).
      Season with salt and black pepper, stir evenly and crush the tomatoes with a wooden spoon or a spatula. Then, let the juices reduce slowly over a gentle heat (step 3 - pic. D).
      Thoroughly wash the aubergines under fresh running water and dry them with a kitchen towel. Chop off their top green end, then cut the longwise ion quarters (halve them if they are too thin) (step 3 - pic. E).
      Dice them in piece  about 2cm thick, then season them with salt and set aside (step 3 - pic. F).

  • 4.
    Frying the aubergines

    • The chopped and seasoned aubergines
    • The hot and flavoured sunflower oil

      When the oil gets to a temperature between 150°C and 170°C, start frying the aubergines a few at a time (step 4 - pic. A).
      Let them soften and brown slightly on the edges, then take them out, drain them thoroughly with a skimmer and let them rest over some kitchen paper to absorb the excess of oil (step 4 - pic. B).
      You might want to start boiling the pasta while still frying the last aubergines.

  • 5.
    Boiling the pasta and binding it to the sauce

    • The boiling water
    • Salt - 40gr
    • Rigatoni- 360gr
    • The fried aubergines
    • The tomato sauce in the frying pan
    • Fresh basil sprigs - to taste [part2 of 2]
    • The grated ricotta cheese

      Salt the water as soon as the water starts boiling, then let it boil vividly again (step 5 - pic. A).
      Drop in the pasta and stir immediately and keep stirring frequently for the first few minutes to prevent the pasta sticking to each other (step 5 - pic. B).
      The pasta will take from ten 10 to 15 minutes to cook, so you have time enough to finish frying the aubergines. Collect a few basil leaves, tear them off by hands and add them to the tomato sauce just before straining the pasta (step 5 - pic. C).
      One minute before the rigatoni get properly cooked “al dente”, strain them directly into the frying pan with the sauce. Alternatively, collect come cooking liquor into a jug and drain the pasta with a strainer. Do not let them dry out completely while finishing the cooking. If needed, add half a ladle of liquor to the frying pan and stir evenly over the maximum heat possible (step 5 - pic. D).
      When the sauce has reduced and has coated the rigatoni, add all the fried aubergines together with a generous part of the salted ricotta cheese you have grated already. Then, stir evenly for perfectly binding the pasta and the sauce (step 5 - pic. E).
      Rest the pasta for a minute and serve sprinkling some more ricotta cheese on top.

      Note about the correct cooking point "al dente”

      “Al dente” literally means “to the tooth”. It indicates the perfect consistency that pasta, or any other food, should have at the end of the cooking process: not too soft and not too hard at chewing. Pasta cooked “al dente” maintains a harder consistency at the centre of the dough sheet which gives the diners a pleasant feeling of “biting” rather than “mushing” something under their teeth..

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