This Monkstown home is a serene dream, yet still perfectly suited to the demands of family life
This Monkstown home is a serene dream, yet still perfectly suited to the demands of...

IMAGE Interiors & Living

Crossing: Director Levan Akin on his new film, patriarchy and the importance of family
Crossing: Director Levan Akin on his new film, patriarchy and the importance of family

Sarah Finnan

Weekend Guide: Festivals, exhibitions, and more great events
Weekend Guide: Festivals, exhibitions, and more great events

Sarah Gill

IMAGE staff pick their top skincare products from French beauty brands
IMAGE staff pick their top skincare products from French beauty brands

Edaein OConnell

Inside the former tram ticketing office on the market for €680,000
Inside the former tram ticketing office on the market for €680,000

Sarah Finnan

The rise of teeth gems on the Irish scene
The rise of teeth gems on the Irish scene

Oyindamola Animashaun

Page Turners: ‘The Story Collector’ author Evie Woods
Page Turners: ‘The Story Collector’ author Evie Woods

Sarah Gill

5 foolproof summer ‘fits
5 foolproof summer ‘fits

Sarah Finnan

The massage I’ve spent the past month thinking about
The massage I’ve spent the past month thinking about

Sarah Gill

Up your fitness game with our IMAGE Active event series
Up your fitness game with our IMAGE Active event series

IMAGE

Image / Living / Food & Drink

Supper Club: Ricotta and aubergine pasta


By Meg Walker
03rd Apr 2024
Supper Club: Ricotta and aubergine pasta

This Sicilian ricotta and aubergine pasta dish is simple, fresh and will please a crowd. A perfect midweek feast for the entire family.

In Catania, this is called pasta alla Norma in honour of the operatic masterpiece by Catania’s favourite son, Vincenzo Bellini. Others call it spaghetti alla coppola (spaghetti with a hat on). My Vincenzo calls it pasta con le melanzane, so I do too. It is a favourite (along with all the other favourites), especially in the summer, when it is made with vegetables that are full of sun.

It can be a winter dish too though, with tinned tomatoes and an unseasonal aubergine. It was a good moment last year when I made this with one of the jars of tomatoes I had bottled the previous summer. I was aware, a bit embarrassed even, of my meagre output compared with nonna Sara’s extraordinary bottlings. Vincenzo, however, is moved by my efforts.

This is his history, taken from one kitchen to another, a single taste that calls up the memory of his grandmother and Gela. Tradition demands spaghetti for Norma, but we often use thick tubes of ridged rigatoni.

Pasta con le melanzane
Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 large aubergines
  • olive or groundnut oil, for frying
  • 1kg fresh tomatoes or 500g passata
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • a small handful of basil
  • 1 tsp sugar (if you need it)
  • 500g pasta, such as spaghetti, rigatoni, casarecce, mezze maniche or penne
  • 200g salted ricotta, grated
  • salt


Method

  1. Peel strips from the aubergine so that they are striped, then cut them into 5mm slices. If you’re going to salt them, do it now; otherwise just dry them with a clean tea towel.
  2. Heat about 5cm oil in a frying pan and fry the slices, turning them halfway, until they are golden brown on both sides, then drain very well on kitchen paper. Set the slices aside, ideally near the stove so they keep warm-ish.
  3. Meanwhile, bring a large pan of water to the boil. If using fresh ones, peel the tomatoes by plunging them into boiling water for 1 minute, then lift them out with a slotted spoon and cool under cold water, at which point the skins should slip away. Roughly chop the tomatoes, removing the seeds if you wish (I don’t).
  4. Crush the garlic cloves with the back of a knife so that they split but remain whole. Warm some more oil in a frying pan and add the garlic. Once the garlic is fragrant and lightly gold, remove it from the pan, add the fresh tomatoes (or passata) and cook until they collapse into a sauce. At this point you can pass the tomatoes through a food mill back into the pan, or if you’re happy with the texture, simply tear in most of the basil, add the sugar if you think the sauce is too sharp, and a good pinch of salt.
  5. Bring the pan of tomato water back to the boil, add salt, stir well and add the pasta. Cook it until al dente, then drain it. Mix the pasta with the sauce and a handful of salted ricotta, then divide it between bowls, top with several slices of aubergine, a little more salted ricotta and a couple more basil leaves. Pass around the remaining aubergine slices and cheese so that people can help themselves.

Extracted from Two Kitchens: Family Recipes from Sicily and Rome by Rachel Roddy (Headline).

Photographs by Nick Seaton and Rachel Roddy.