Rumor has it that this Sicilian dish was named for the opera Norma, first performed in 1831, which tells the story of a tragic love affair between a Roman official and a Druid high priestess.
canola or olive oil
3 small eggplants
2 cloves garlic
6-8 plum tomatoes
12 basil leaves, plus extra for garnish
salt and pepper
ricotta cheese (make your own - see the entry on 16 April 2005)
pasta (traditonally made with fettucini)
Slice the eggplant, sprinkle with salt and let sit for 30 minutes. Rinse and pat dry. This removes moisture so it won't spit so much in the hot oil. Meanwhile, sauté the garlic in 1/4 cup oil. Stir in chopped tomatoes, chopped basil, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer 15 minutes.
Heat oil in skillet and brown the eggplant on both sides. Drain on paper towel. (Or, brush rounds with oil and broil both sides in oven.) If large, cut eggplant into bite-sized pieces. Cook the pasta. Toss the cooked pasta with the tomato sauce. To serve, put pasta on plate, top with fried eggplant and sprinkle with ricotta cheese.