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  • Writer's pictureYiannoulla Burness

Pasta Alla Norma

Pasta alla norma was a name given to a dish that originated in Sicily, Italy. This traditional Italian pasta dish consists of eggplant, tomato sauce and pasta. This is my version of Pasta Alla Norma. To make the topping, I sourced large fleshy tomatoes from the weekly market along with freshly picked organic eggplant. Added to this some of my favourite ingredients onion and garlic along with fresh herbs of thyme and basil from my garden.

There are many varieties of pasta available made from not only wheat but rice, corn, lentils, chickpeas, spelt, wholegrain, quinoa in the form of noodles, shapes, dried or fresh.

For this dish I made fresh pasta with added turmeric.

EQUIPMENT: Open fry pan or large saucepan,


INGREDIENTS


ONION: there is nothing more that I like than the smell of onions cooking, they add so much flavour and texture to a dish. They not only taste good but have many health benefits. Onions are nutrient dense meaning low in calories, high in vitamins and minerals. Onions have been shown to reduce blood pressure and protect against blood clots, fight inflammation and decrease cholesterol levels.


GARLIC: another love of mine. Some people shy away from this pungent, spicy tasting herb/vegetable. It is a wonderful flavouring agent and can be used to flavour so many food dishes. Garlic is usually added to heated oil near the beginning of a dish this adds flavour to the oil which defuses through the food that is being cooked.

Some of the amazing benefits of this spicy over powering herb/vegetable are - Garlic is an infection fighter against viruses, bacteria and fungi. It has anti fungal and antimicrobial properties. It has the ability to widen blood vessels allowing blood to flow more freely helping lower blood pressure. Garlic acts like an anticoagulant reducing the risk of heart attack.


TOMATOES: While tomatoes are in season all year round at certain times of the year the local farmers are selling off excess harvest. You can be sure to get a bargin and be pleased how flavourful the tomatoes are. Bottle them, stew them or make different sauces with them while they are plentiful. Tomatoes are at their best when left out at room temperature this way they continue to ripen and the flavour increases. While tomatoes are a wonderful source of vitamin C, potassium, folate and vit K they are a major dietary source of lycopene an antioxidant that has many health benefits which include reducing the risk of heart disease and cancer.


EGGPLANT: comes in different shapes, sizes and colours. It has a firm spongy texture when raw but once cooked becomes soft and tender and melts in your mouth. Eggplant acts like a sponge and absorbs the flavour of what ever it is cooked with. The eggplant used in this dish is the more common dark purple variety known as Italian eggplant. I like this variety because its flavour is sweet. Eggplant can have a slightly bitter taste. To draw out the bitterness slice the eggplant and sprinkle with salt and let it sweat for 30 minutes, then rinse off the salt , pat dry and its ready to use. Eggplant is a nutrient dense vegetable meaning it has few calories and a good amount of vitamins and mineral with fibre. A type of pigment with antioxidant properties called anthocyanin is found in eggplant and is responsible for its vibrant colour which has been found to protect against cellular damage.


FRESH PASTA: I have a recipe for fresh pasta, made with 3 simple basic ingredients (semolina, Double zero flour and liquid). Recipe can be found under mains (Gourmet mushroom pasta). The pasta when cooked melts in your mouth. Extra raw pasta can be made and frozen for future meals. If your not into making it fresh there are many varieties of ready made pasta available.


RECIPE

TOMATO HERB PASTA

170g or 1 medium size brown onion, finely chopped

70g or 1/2 cup of garlic, minced

550g or 4-5 fresh ripe large tomatoes roughly chopped

325g or 1 medium size Italian purple eggplant, cut into bite size pieces

2-3 sprigs of thyme

1 teaspoon of vegetta (vegetable seasoning) or salt or chose own seasoning

small handful basil leaves, plus some for garnish





METHOD

*In an open pan heat olive oil and cook eggplant, flip eggplant often as it tends to soak up the oil quickly. You may place a lid over the pan and steam cook for a few minutes. When it is soft and tender, remove from heat and set aside.


*Re-heat open pan on medium heat and add olive oil then add chopped onion and sauté until it is soft and translucent, 2-3 minutes.

*Add the minced garlic and cook 1 minute.

* Next add in chopped tomatoes and sprigs of thyme, season with vegetta or salt or choice of own seasoning. Cook until tomatoes break down and start to cook in their own juice.

*To tomatoes add pre cooked eggplant, and fresh basil leaves. Toss to mix and heat through. Adjust seasoning if needed. Set aside and cook pasta.

*If making fresh pasta follow recipe on a previous post "Gourmet mushroom pasta"

*If using package pasta follow instructions for cooking.

*At the end of cooking time drain water from pasta, save 1-2 tablespoons of cooking water.

*Add pasta back into pan add saved cooking water add tomato sauce mixture and toss to coat.

*Serve immediately.

*garnish with fresh basil



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