I apologize in advance to those who expressed their dislike of eggplant/aubergine when I stuffed them a few weeks ago…because we’re going at the melanzane again today.
For this week’s What’s Cooking Wednesday, we’re pairing them with tomatoes, basil, garlic, onions, and pecorino cheese in Pasta alla Norma, a Sicilian dish whose origins are in dispute (read more here) but always involve Catania‘s own Vincenzo Bellini and one of his most famous operas, “Norma.”
I should probably add an “alla Sognatrice” at the end of the name of this dish because this is my take on the traditional recipe, which includes a kind of cheese called ricotta salata. It’s not all that easy to find, so I substituted pecorino, as did blogging buddy Sara over at Ms Adventures in Italy recently.
Other differences: some recipes call for sliced eggplant, but I prefer it diced, and almost all require you to crumble the ricotta salata cheese–I could’ve done that with the pecorino, I suppose, but I prefer it grated.
You’re free to do as you like of course.
Pasta alla Norma
4 small eggplants, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
Peperoncino to taste
1 can of diced tomatoes
8-10 basil leaves, torn
Spaghetti or penne pasta
Wash and dice eggplant. Place in colander and salt well, being sure to coat all sides (use coarse salt if you have it). Let sit for about a half hour and then remove eggplant from colander and pat dry.Heat olive oil in skillet over medium heat. Add eggplant and cook until brown on all sides, about 10 minutes.
Add onion, garlic and peperoncino, and then after a few minutes, add tomatoes. Let simmer for about 15 minutes or until the tomatoes are done to your taste.
In the meantime, prepare pasta in large pot of boiling water.
When sauce is just about finished, add basil, and then combine pasta and sauce–enough to coat the pasta.
Serve immediately with cheese on top.
Last Friday, I was in the Marina thinking about how long I’d have to wait for a bus to get back up the mountain when I wandered by a hair salon run by the wife of one of P’s friends. I’ve never gone to her and, in fact, always felt a little guilty whenever I saw her because of it.
It so happened that two young guys from the village were getting haircuts there, and one offered me a ride if I wanted to wait. So I waited for them, figuring the bus would take much longer to arrive.
And then I felt guiltier and guiltier about never going there for my haircuts the longer I sat there.
So at the last snip, I worked up all the nerve I had and asked Giovanna if I could make an appointment with her and made a decision on the spot to not only cut, but color. I’ve never colored my hair before (some highlights, yes, but not in years–and not in Italy), but the little white ones were really just starting to annoy me far too much.
Plus my birthday’s coming up, so I thought I’d treat myself to some “me” time and count this as my present to myself.
Now you’re all dying to know how it turned out, right? Well humor me anyway.
Yesterday morning I looked like this:
Now I look like this:
I love the color, love the cut, and now I even have some private English lessons lined up as a result of finally going to see Giovanna. Turns out she wanted to ask me about them the previous day I was there but was too shy to ask. Seems we have at least one thing in common.
And? You want to know how much it set me back? Wash, cut, color, and style (including blowing out my not-so-straight-hair)?
Thirty euros ($42).
Happy early birthday to me!
When Italy’s Interior Ministry decided it was time to spruce up the uniform of the 14,750 women police officers (for more on the numerous branches of Italian police, head over to Mental Mosaic), they did what many of us do in a fashion crisis.
They bought new shoes–with higher heels for a “younger and sexier look” according to La Stampa.
Trying to save money, though, the government bypassed all the world-renowned (but expensive) Italian shoemakers and went with a company from Romania.
Unfortunately, when the shoes arrived, they weren’t in standard European sizes, so the shoes didn’t fit.
Which means a lot of useless shoes.
You think they’ll give the Italian government its money back?
Floor’s open to your comments on whatever leaps out at you. Stomp away.
[tags]italian policewomen, shoes, bureaucratic blunders, italy[/tags]
I completely forgot about my Monthly Musing this month! Why is that? Probably because I love, love, love September and was too busy enjoying it…and didn’t it just fly by?!
September is my second favorite month after October, my birth month (the 18th if you’re keeping track), which is really like September Plus in my mind–but more on that another time.
So to me September is:
Relief from heat, humidity, mosquitoes, and all the nasty stuff about summer
that makes me irritable just thinking about it…
Renewed energy and fresh starts–
this from years of the school year really starting to kick into gear…
Smells of wood burning, rainy mornings, and
actual hot meals coming off the stove and out of the oven…
A crispness in the air coupled with warm sunshine, and
never knowing exactly how to dress for the weather…
Longer walks with the dogs because I won’t be pouring in sweat and
dreading every successive step…
Shorter but not too-short days, which means more cuddle time
with P as well as with the pooches…
I always love the glorious ninth month, and this year was no different. Thanks for the memories, September! Loved it, loved it, loved it, and I can’t wait to greet October (doesn’t hurt that Season 3 of “Lost” starts here tomorrow–yeah!!!!).
Now tell me do–
what do *you* like about September?
Oh a lot, amici miei.
Let’s start from the most serious and head down to the downright silly:
(1) Italian Premier Romano Prodi has called for a worldwide moratorium on the death penalty in front of the United Nations General Assembly. Without getting into a huge political debate (although you’re welcome to do so in the comments!), I’m firmly against the death penalty, and I’m molto fiera that Italy has stood up against it in the UN.
Of course the United States will be one of the key opponents of the moratorium, but Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D’Alema thinks it has a good shot at passing since public opinion has shifted over the years in favor of outlawing the death penalty. Time will tell, but I’m just happy that the discussion is on the floor and that Italy is in the forefront.
(2) This isn’t technically in Italy, but we’ll get there in a second. The Vatican City State has a new stamp–and not just any new stamp. This time the saint is from Calabria! Yeah! Go San Francesco di Paola!
For those who aren’t up on Roman Catholic saints, Calabria’s own Saint Francis is often overshadowed by Saint Francis of Assisi, the co-Patron Saint of Italy with Saint Catherine of Siena (although there is some debate on that, with Saint Joseph (father of Jesus) as the other contender). Anyway, it’s nice to see *our* Saint Francis, the Patron Saint of Calabria, being recognized.
Here’s a preview:
(3) And finally, guess who’s invading the Bel Paese? You’ll never guess. Or maybe you will. Give up?
This ABC article is actually from April 30 of this year. Scary thing is that the article talks about the time frame of 24-36 months during which Starbucks plans to open branches in France, Germany, Spain, and (gulp) Italy.
Which means we’re *that* much closer to no more of this in the morning:
So now that I’ve touched on politics, religion, and coffee–three subjects guaranteed to get any Italian fired up (only calcio is missing!)–I’ll leave you to your Saturday.
Hope it’s as gorgeous as ours is here!