Pasta alla Norma is one of the symbols of our Sicilian cuisine and its history seems to be linked to a tribute to Vincenzo Bellini, a well-known composer from Catania. Others, on the other hand, attribute it to the humour of the writer Nino Martoglio.
It was December 26, 1831 when Vincenzo Bellini’s opera Norma premiered for the first time at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan, becoming the most famous of his ten works and immediately enjoying great success.
It is said that a Sicilian chef created a dish for the occasion, Pasta alla Norma, that was served on the evening of the premier of Bellini’s opera,. A first course was also dedicated to the name of Norma’s first interpreter, the soprano Giuditta Pasta.
Bellini brought his work to the stage of the Scala in Milan, which was later made immortal by the interpretations of Maria Callas, Montserrat Caballè, Joan Sutherland and Cecilia Bartoli.
The other version of the origins of the Catania dish tells that in 1920 a lunch was held at the Musco-Pandolfini house, in via Etnea in Catania (the main street of Catania).
Around the same table were found Angelo Musco, his sister Anna and her husband Giuseppe Pandolfini (the hosts), the nephews Turi and Janu, Janu with his wife Saridda D’Urso, and Nino Martoglio, who with the well-known actor had undertaken an artistic bond for some time.
When the dish was brought to the diners, Martoglio was struck by the scent and quality of the Sicilian dish and turning to the cook he exclaimed: Signora Saridda, this is a true Norma.
A joke that gave its name to Catania’s “Pasta diva”.
A state of excellence that was in fact renamed “made to the standard” or “made to perfection!”Pasta alla Norma are Mediterranean aromas combined in a single dish! A vegetarian dish that is the gustatory pillar of the Catania summers, a riot of flavours.
Our family recipe brings the Italian colours and the spirit of Catania: a simple dish that at the same time has an effect for our senses: colour, aroma and flavour.
Recipe of Pasta alla Norma
- 400 gr. durum wheat semolina spaghetti
- 10 fresh coppery tomatoes, or 500g Piccadilly tomatoes
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon of sugar
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 large silk eggplant (to be clear the light purple one)
- Grated Catanian salted ricotta
- Preferably Sicilian basil for a more intense aroma
Wash, dry and cut the fresh copper tomatoes, or Piccadilly tomatoess, to make a tomato sauce. Put some Sicilian EVO oil on a pan and add 1 clove of clean whole garlic, to be removed shortly after.
Then add the tomatoes and cook for about 30 minutes with some fresh basil leaves. After this, blend everything in a mixer or pass through a vegetable mill.
Cut the aubergine partly into thin slices and partly into cubes, purge them with salt and rinse them under running water, then dry them with absorbent paper. Fry the aubergines in plenty of extra virgin olive oil heated to a temperature of 170 ° and place them on absorbent paper for fried foods (straw paper) to dry the excess oil.
Cook the pasta, preferably spaghetti or even Sicilian casarecce or sedanini rigati, in salted water and drain it al dente.
Meanwhile, add some fresh basil leaves to the fresh tomato sauce and dip the pasta into it. Add the pieces of fried aubergine and leave whole slices to serve on the dinner plate together with a generous sprinkling of grated salted ricotta!
A masterpiece of Catania and Mediterranean cuisine!