Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Moonstruck with Pasta alla Norma

Some of the things I enjoy are pasta, wine, cheese, movies and the website Eliot’s Eats. What do all those have in common? Well, I’ll tell you.

Debra over at Eliot's Eats is hosting the Food ‘n Flix event this month. She selected the movie Moonstruck. Her announcement post is HERE. Check it out because there is still time to join in if you’d like.

This is an old movie but the Italian American households are well represented with the food scenes and bantering. Growing up south of Philly I was always invited into the homes of my childhood friends. I was looked after, fussed over, fed and fed some more. I listened to the conversations I couldn’t understand but loved the cadences of the Italian language as the family had a passionate discussion. And there was music…always music playing somewhere in the house.

See how Ronny courts Loretta.....takes her to the opera.

This brings me back to the subject of pasta again. As I said, I love pasta. That was one of the things that I knew I would miss when we eliminated wheat from our diet. Thanks to Muellers and Tinkyada brands, we can still enjoy flavorful pasta using their gluten free variety.

The dish I am bringing t June's movie event is Pasta all Norma.

Pasta alla Norma is a delicious combination of eggplant, onions, tomatoes, basil and ricotta salata. The savory dish bursts with flavorful vegetables. If you don’t have too big a helping this isn’t too high, calorically speaking. Depends on the amount of cheese you heap onto the pasta and sauce.

Don’t make the mistake of substituting regular creamy ricotta for the ricotta salata. Big difference in the two.

Ricotta salata is a semi-hard salted ricotta cheese which you can gently grate into large peels for the topping. We picked ours up at Whole Foods.

Pasta all Norma

2 large globe eggplants, diced into 1-inch cubes
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, small dice
4-6 garlic cloves, sliced
1 teaspoon-1tablespoon hot chili flakes, according to taste
One 28-ounce can Italian plum tomatoes, crushed
2 sprigs fresh basil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pound pasta of your choice (I used rigatoni)
6-8 ounces ricotta salata, crumbled or thickly grated
Handful of fresh basil leaves, torn or sliced for garnish


Place the diced eggplant in a large colander with a plate underneath it and sprinkle with a generous amount of salt. Place another plate on top of the eggplant and let stand for 30-45 minutes. Remove the eggplant and dry thoroughly with a paper towel.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and saute until soft and translucent, about 7-8 minutes. Add the garlic and chili flakes for the last minute or two until fragrant.

Add the tomatoes and basil sprigs to the saucepan. Bring to a healthy simmer, lower heat to medium-low and simmer covered for 20 minutes. Uncover and continue to simmer for about 15-20 minutes more, or until sauce thickens. Add salt and pepper if needed.

While sauce is simmering, cook the pasta and the eggplant. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta until al dente.
In a large skillet heat, the 1/2 cup olive oil over medium high heat until almost smoking. Add the eggplant in batches and fry until golden brown, about 5-8 minutes. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels. Set aside.
To serve, toss the pasta with the tomato sauce. Top with t
he eggplant. Sprinkle the ricotta salata over the top and garnish with the sliced basil.

If you try it let me know. It's vegetarian but you could easily add meat if you wanted to. Of course, then it wouldn't be Pasta alla Norma. Enjoy!



Debra Eliotseats said...

Great post. I did not know what ricotta salata was. I bet you did witness some lively meals in your youth. Love the pasta you posted. So glad you played along,

~~louise~~ said...

Hi Tina!

Oh my, the thought of Pasta alls Norma with Ricotta salata has my mouth watering, lol...Quite unusual for me considering I'm not much of a pasta lover. Yes, I really did say that!

What a GREAT choice Debra has made. I love Moonstruck and could probably join in on the fun if I were up to cooking, lol...

I have such wonderful memories of Ricotta salata. I couldn't even begin to tell you. Just know I love the stuff and haven't had it in years!!!

Thank you so much for sharing, Tina...Your Pasta looks amazing!!!

Tina said...

Thank you, Debra. I couldn't resist joining in this month. Great pick.

Welcome back, Louise. I hope you are on the mend soon. Glad you had a good time in Idaho.

Janel Gradowski said...

Oh yum! Glad you've found a good gluten-free pasta.

Tina said...

It's very good pasta too, Janel. I would eat it even if we didn't need to avoid wheat.

Anonymous said...

Oh yum T ... south Wales sounds very similar to south Philly in many ways, lots of Italian immigrants, I had my very own Uncle Gino! And ate loadsa buono pasta ;)
Mrs L

Camilla Mann said...

We love, love, LOVE ricotta salata! Your pasta alla Norma looks delicious. Thanks for sharing with the Food'n'Flix crew this month.

Anonymous said...

I've never actually seen what ricotta salata is. You learn something new everyday!

Wendy Klik said...

Your Pasta sounds delicious. I am so happy I was invited to join this club.

mickeydownunder said...

G'day and yum! I could go for some of this right now! Congrats on completing the Food 'n Flix challenge too!
Cheers! Joanne

Tina said...

Mrs. L, sounds like we are truly culinary twins. Cruelly separated by an ocean.

Thank you very much Camilla!

LawStudent, you know I didn't know what it was either but I found it at Whole Foods. It's quite a different consistency from the tub of ricotta.

Wendy, I think the more the merrier when it comes to food and sharing :-)

Thank you so much Joanne!

Deb in Hawaii said...

(OK, yes I am very late in getting around to comment this month!) ;-)
What a gorgeous pasta dish--I love all of the ingredients and flavors you have in it.

I agree about the GF pasta--I have cooked with the Tinkyada brand of pasta before when doing gluten free cooking demos and the texture and flavor are really good. ;-)

Wordless Wednesday #10