rigatoni alla Norma alla Devaki

by Heguiberto on April 1, 2011

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We’ve been following Devaki’s eclectic, always satisfying, food blog, Weave a Thousand Flavors, for a while now. Like us, she takes a multinational approach to food. Her recipes come from everywhere, so you will always find something that suits your palate. If you haven’t been already, we highly recommend her site. Click here to check it out.

rigatoni alla Norma alla Devaki

rigatoni alla Norma alla Devaki

The other week she published a Sicilian recipe, Pasta alla Norma, which calls for a cheese with which I was unfamiliar: ricotta salata. That caught my attention, as I like to try new things. Actually, Devaki makes a wry comment in her story about this cheese in particular, not to be confused with America’s darling Italian cheese, parmesan.

Anyway, when I mentioned it to Steven, he vaguely remembered having it sometime in the distant past. Neither of us really had much recollection. All the better!

Another plus for this recipe seemed to be its ease of preparation. Perfect for mid-week fatigue when you’re tired, hungry, want to eat something delicious without much wait or fuss.

We had pretty much everything at home already, except for the ricotta salata. Easily fixed at our local Whole Paycheck.

First thing, I tried the cheese. Devaki was right in her description. Ricotta salata does taste like a mild version of feta, goat cheese or a ricotta or farmers cheese: fresh nutty and slightly salty flavors with a sort of mealy/crumbly texture. In my oh-so humble opinion it is tastier than regular ricotta or farmer’s cheese.

I had to make some changes from her recipe to accommodate what we had on hand. Steven had roasted some fresh tomatoes the day before, so I used these with canned. I like a lot of tomato. Also I used rigatoni instead of the original maccheroni or the strozzapreti that Devaki had. It came out just as deliciously as she described in her post!

I am going to cook it for our Sicilian friend, Fabiola, sometime. She’s from Catania, Bellini’s birthplace. I want to hear what she knows about the connection between the dish, the opera, Norma, and Bellini. I think it’ll be a fun dinner!

rigatoni alla Norma alla Devaki

1 lb rigatoni
2 medium eggplant
½ lb ricotta salata, crumbled
15 roasted tomatoes, recipe here
5 fresh basil leaves, shredded just before serving
5 garlic cloves minced
1 white onion chopped into small cubes
2 cups canned crushed tomatoes
½ tsp crushed red pepper
½ tsp black pepper
olive oil for brushing eggplant
3 tbsp olive oil for sauce
Kosher salt

Cut eggplants into ¾ inch pieces. Place them in a colander, sprinkle with salt and let sweat for ½ hour. Rinse and pat dry with a paper towels.

Pre-heat oven to 450F towards end of the sweat.

Brush eggplant liberally with olive oil on both sides and lay them single layer on a tray lined with parchment pepper. Roast eggplant for about 10-14 minutes, turning half way through cooking. Remove from oven, let cool, then cut into strips. Set aside.

To prepare the sauce, sauté onion in a few tablespoons olive oil and cook until translucent. Add garlic and cook a minute more just until aromatic. Add roasted and crushed tomatoes, peppers and salt. Simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile cook pasta al dente per package instructions. Drain, add to the tomato sauce with half of the eggplant and cheese. Toss to combine. Add remaining eggplant, cheese and bits of basil to the top and voilá you have a simple, delicious and elegant dish that will leave you agog!

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Devaki @ weavethousandflavors.com April 1, 2011 at 7:37 am

Dear H & S – What an honor! I am truly touched by your rendition of my post just a few weeks back. You could not have paid me a higher compliment. Thanks you so very much & I am very grateful.

The fact that you made it, liked it, gave it your own special twist & agreed with me on the cheese :), makes me very happy indeed! I love the pic of the eggplant snaking through the rigatone and must make it again as soon as I get off this blasted diet! Can you imagine – I am on a diet!!! ugh!!!

chow! Devaki @ weavethousandflavors
Devaki @ weavethousandflavors.com recently posted..Garden Mini-Meatloaves with Dijon-Tomato Tangy ToppingMy Profile

Fabiola April 1, 2011 at 11:15 pm

I am in love with this culinary vision! Yummy eggplants.

I want to try it

ritatower April 1, 2011 at 11:21 pm

Oh my God..I love to hear the sounds of opera or tango singers with this dish. It is so moving and passionate. Dahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhling! Dance and voice ooze from the dramatic pictures you present. Audios. Glamour…con vino tino!

tasteofbeirut April 2, 2011 at 10:21 pm

This dish from Devaki’s is sure to be a good one! Every single one of hers is perfect and a classic. Well, I think some good wine and even some opera music in the background and I would call this a perfect evening.
tasteofbeirut recently posted..Chicken rug with peppersMy Profile

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