Spaghetti alla Norma

Sicilia

Serves 4

2 melanzane (egg plants, aubergines)

Olive oil

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 dried chilli

4 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped

Bunch fresh Basil leaves

1 teaspoon white wine vinegar

2 x 400 g (14 oz) tins of tomatoes

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

The secret of this dish is to only add the melanzane to the tomato sauce just before serving; this keeps the wonderful flavour of the fried melanzane.

  1. Cut the melanzane in half lengthways and then into finger shaped chunks.  Heat a non-stick pan until hot add a little olive oil and begin to fry the melanzane in one layer until they are golden, so you will have to do a couple of batches. Melanzane are like sponges with the oil so just keep adding very little oil to the pan as necessary.  Add the oregano as you are frying.
  2. In another pan, heat a little olive oil add the garlic, chilli and a bunch of basil leaves.  Allow the flavours to infuse into the oil.
  3. Add the tomatoes and break them up in the pan.  Cook for 30 minutes.  Add vinegar at the end of the cooking time and adjust the seasoning.  Remove the bunch of basil.
  4. Cook the spaghetti in salted boiling water until al dente (9 minutes).  Drain the pasta.
  5. Add the fried melanzane to the tomato sauce and add a few fresh basil leaves.  Dress the spaghetti.

In Sicilia it is usual to serve this with grated aged ricotta cheese but you can use Pecorino or Parmigiano Reggiano.

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