This is a traditional Sicilian dish but Fidget decided to give it a personal twist in a north-meets-south kinda way. And, yes, you may be forgiven for thinking he was presenting the weather forecast…
Pasta alla Norma the Fidget way
Purists will say you need ricotta salata stagionata (matured ricotta, not the fresh soft variety) for this dish and Fidget won’t argue with that. Only it wasn’t available when the Rowes decided to make the dish, so they used seirass, a creamy and delicious ricotta from Piemonte. Not the original recipe, but finger-licking marvellous nonetheless.
You will need: 2 small aubergines, olive oil, 2 garlic cloves, 350g tomato passata, 6 basil leaves, 180g pasta (penne are a good choice), 70g seirass ricotta (of course, if you have the original Sicilian matured version go ahead – roughly grate about 70g and keep it to one side).
Thinly slice the aubergines and fry in olive oil in a large frying pan. You will need to do this in batches. When you have finished with the aubergines set them aside. Using the same pan, add 2tbsp olive oil, the crushed garlic cloves and 3–4 basil leaves. Fry gently for a minute or so (careful: you don’t want the garlic to burn) then add the passata and cook slowly, covered, for 30min or so.
When the passata sauce is cooked put the fried aubergines back in the tomato sauce pan and combine well. Alongside, bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the penne for the al dente time recommendation on the pack. Drain the pasta quickly (a little cooking water remaining is a good thing) toss in the pan with the passata/aubergine sauce, sprinkle with ricotta, give it a quick mix, add some more fresh basil leaves and serve at once.
North? South? Matured ricotta? Fresh ricotta? Does it really matter? Silence descended on the cartoon kitchen only occasionally interrupted by sighs of delight. Such an incredible combination of flavours… if you need convincing, try it for yourself!