Vegan Pasta Norma from Sicily
One of my newest discoveries is Vegan Pasta Norma. This dish originated from Sicily where the local’s had to make amazing food from hardly any ingredients. They used whatever was in season and whatever they could cultivate themselves. This is a cheap dish to make and really satisfying to eat.
There are many versions of Vegan Pasta Alla Norma available but I make mine with extra chili as I love the kick you get and the warmth that comes from chili. If you are not a fan of heat in your cooking then just reduce or eliminate this ingredient and you will still get a fantastic dish.
Vegan Pasta Norma takes around 30 minutes to cook from start to finish and believe me when my guests tasted this dish they were converts to vegan food instantly.
Aubergine is known as eggplant in some countries but in the UK we call it Aubergine!
I always use Buckwheat Pasta or Spelt Pasta as I want to reduce any exposure to wheat. You can use whatever pasta you prefer but I like this one as it’s gluten free and doens’t have any of the addictive properies that wheat pasta has AND none of the weight or bloating issues you get with wheat pasta.
Start by getting all the ingredients and utensils together so you can grab them easily. Pop some Italian music or something by the Gypsy Kings to get you in the mood for a flavour explosion.
This recipe serves 2
- 1 medium Aubergine
- Pinch of salt (I use pink Himalayan)
- 4 cloves of garlic (use less if you are not a fan of garlic)
- Small bunch of fresh basil
- 1 teaspoon of died oregano
- 1 dried chilli or 1 fresh chilli
- 1 teaspoon of chilli flakes
- 1 tablespoon of Olive oil
- 1 tablespoon of capers
- 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar
- 400g tinned tomatoes or fresh chopped tomatoes (I always use organic)
- 250g dried buckwheat spaghetti or buckwheat penne pasta like I have used
- 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil (optional)
- 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast flakes (optional) (I used Marigold
- Start by prepping your aubergine by cutting it into 2cm pieces, throw these into a bowl or colander and sprinkle with sea salt. This helps to dry out the Aubergine and makes the dish much tastier. Wet Aubergine isn’t a good ingredient! Leave for 20 minutes while the salt does it’s job.
- Finely slice or chop the garlic and then squash with the back of the knife a few times until it resembles a garlic paste.
- Finely chop your fresh or dried chilli.
- Roughly chop the capers
- After 20 minutes rinse the salt from the aubergine quickly and put the chunks onto some kitchen towel or a tea towel to remove the moisture. Then add the chunks to a large bowl and cover with the oregano, chilli flakes (if using), a pinch of salt and pepper and small slug of olive oil. Toss together well using your hands or a spoon.
- Start to heat a slug of olive oil in a large frying pan, add the aubergine chunks and cook over a low-medium heat for 5-8 minutes until they start to get soften and take on a lovely golden colour.
- Now add the garlic to the pan and gently fry for a further 2 minutes, stirring the whole time as you don’t want the garlic to burn.
- Add the tomatoes and wine vinegar to the pan and stir everything together well. If you are using whole tomatoes you will need to break them up into smaller chunks using a wooden spoon or plastic stirrer. Simmer gently for 20 minutes
- Add your pasta to another pan and use a drop of olive oil before you add the boiling water. This helps to stop the pasta from sticking together. Mix the pasta and water well and make sure you stir everything at least 3-4 more times. Cook for 9-10 minutes or according to the pasta directions. The pasta should be ‘al dente’ which means ‘to the tooth’, basically firm in texture but still soft enough to eat. If you have floppy pasta it has been cooked too long!
- Drain and rinse the pasta with some boiling water.
- Mix the pasta sauce and pasta together and add to the plates you are serving on.
- Quickly tear up your basil leaves and sprinkle over the pasta. Add some nutritional yeast flakes for a cheeky cheesy topping.
- Finally, if you wish, drizzle some Extra Virgin Olive Oil over the top and serve to your amazed guests.