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    Sunday, July 03, 2016

    Pasta A La Norma - Everybody loved it

    It seems I'm going Sicilian this week, tonight I am cooking A Sicilian Fish Dish Click here for the recipe and tomorrow I am cooking a lunch for friends
    So continuing on the Sicilian Theme, I am making Pasta A la Norma
    Apparently named after Bellini's Opera, Norma, I think I need to find the music on my phone and play it during lunch
    I've made this a few times, and it has been very popular with the punters
    A great vegetarian dish,
    The fresh herbs really lift it, Fabulous Flavours, with the saltiness of the cheese giving that extra lift
    There are many versions of this dish...but it seems this is one of the best
    Of course I did cook too much... so
    I did have some leftover and reheated it, to accompany schnitzel for the grandchildren
    They loved it, all had second helpings.
    Raving in fact

    1 large eggplant
    4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for tossing
    Sea salt
    2 or 3 large ripe tomatoes (about 350 grams)
    1 pound rigatoni or fettuccine ( I used rigate which was I think will be my preference now)
    2 garlic cloves, very thinly sliced

    Crushed red pepper flakes
    1 bunch basil, leaves only, very roughly chopped (about 1 packed cup)
    About 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
    About 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
    1 scant cup goats Feta, crumbled or coarsely grated, optional
    Parmesan cheese

    Heat the oven to 215°C.
    Using a vegetable peeler or a paring knife, peel some of the skin from the eggplant in stripes (it’s nice to have some, but not all, of the eggplant skin in the final pasta dish)
    Cut the eggplant into 1-inch dice, toss it on a rimmed baking sheet with oil and salt, and roast until browned and very tender, about 20 minutes.
    The eggplant is done when you can easily squish a cube with your finger
     and it has a nice, creamy texture; under-cooked eggplant
    can have a less appealing, cottony feel.
    Bring a big pot of cold salted water to a boil.
    Add the pasta and cook, stirring frequently, according to the package instructions.

    If you’re in a hurry, cut the tomatoes into large dice about the size of, well, dice.
    Don’t bother removing the skins and seeds.
    If you have a moment to intensify the flavour of your tomatoes,
    remove their skins and seeds and dice them, then place the diced tomatoes in a colander,
    sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt, and let sit for 10 minutes.
    To grab that extra flavour, its worth doing this step
    I extracted the juice from the seeds and skin and added it into the sauce

    Warm a large skillet over low heat and add the 4 tablespoons oil.
    Toss in the garlic and crushed red pepper and stir a bit.
    Add the basil and a sprinkle of salt,
    raise the heat to medium and cook, stirring, until the basil is dark green and wilted,
    being careful not to burn the garlic.
    Add the tomatoes, sprinkle with the salt (if you haven’t already), and
    cook until the tomatoes barely lose their rawness, about 5 minutes.

    Add the roasted eggplant and let the sauce simmer gently until the pasta is ready.
    Drain the pasta, reserving about 1 cup pasta cooking water.
    Toss the drained pasta with the sauce, the mint, and the parsley,
    tasting and adjusting the seasoning if necessary.
    If the mixture seems dry,
    add some pasta cooking water, a little at a time.
    Toss in the Feta
     Grate the Parmesan over the top


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