Like many lovers of Italian food, wine, and culture, I enjoyed watching Stanley Tucci’s CNN series recently, “Searching for Italy”. I have also always been a fan of Tucci’s acting and style. In the last episode he visits Sicily. In Catania he goes to Ristorante Me Cumpari Turiddu, and there enjoys one of my favorite dishes, Pasta all Norma.
This Sicilian classic is traditionally made with tomato sauce, eggplants, ricotta salata cheese, and fresh basil. The dish is said to be named in honor of La Norma, the famous opera composed by Vincenzo Bellini in 1831. I was fascinated by the way the chef prepared the dish, so I decided to try it his way, using passata and long, slow cooking of small eggplant chunks. The result was great, so I am sharing it with you.
Sometimes I suffer a surfeit of riches. This particular night was such an occasion. I had three very good Etna Rosso wines from which to choose, so I contacted my good friend and wine importer/distributor, Jan d’Amore, for his advice. Here’s what he said: “You’ve got 3 great wines. I’d go for the passopisciaro, a little more fleshy than the others, should go well with the fried eggplant and ricotta salata“. He was absolutely right! Fleshy was the key word, and I was transported.
I think Bellini would have been proud. And we now have a preferred recipe for this wonderful dish. Buon appetito!