Tortelli “alla Norma”

Timing – 1.30h
Difficulty: Medium

For the Tortelli (classic dough, not bicoloured):

–  200g “00” Flour
–  2 Fresh Medium Eggs (with yellow egg’s yolk)
–  50g of Semolina Flour

For the Filling:

–  100g Sundried Tomato Paste
–  200g Ricotta
–  20g Parmesan
–  2 Stems of Dill

For the Sauce:

–  1 Aubergine
–  300g San Marzano (canned tomatoes)
–  2 Garlic Cloves
–  Extra Virgin Olive Oil
–  Ricotta salata (to grate on top)
–  A handful of Basil leaves
–  Salt to taste

Born in Catania, a city that sits at the foot of the volcano Etna,  “La Norma” is a triumph of savoury tastes. The Sicilian dish owes its popularity to Norma, the famous theatre play, by Vincenzo Bellini.  Comparing the joy of eating to this work of art, one of his colleagues exclaimed “this is a real Norma”. The story says he was eating a delicious pasta dish, with fried aubergine as the main character.


For the Filling:

Cut the dill very thinly. Mix ricotta, dill, parmesan and tomato paste in a small container using a spoon or a fork. prepare a small container with water on the side that you will use later to close the tortelli, then roll out a portion of your dough into a thin sheet (read here the classic egg dough recipe).

Once the dough is nicely laid out on the table, cut it either in circles or squares of the same size. If you don’t have a ravioli stamp or a pasta cutter the second option might be easier. With a teaspoon place enough filling in the centre of each bottom remembering to leave about 5-6mm from the margin. Brush (or use a finger) with water the four sides of your squared dough, then pinch two of the tops forming a triangle. Now moving outwards put pressure with your fingers to remove any air pockets from each side and seal tightly. As a final passage overlap and merge the two corners forming to abtain the “tortello shape”.

For the Sauce:

Cut the aubergine into thick slices and coarsely dice them into large cubes. Now, mince the garlic cloves and put some olive oil (be generous with it!) in a frying pan over medium heat.
Add garlic, eggplants, and a pinch of salt to the pan. Let it cook until the aubergines reach a sexy golden colour, tossing them quite frequently. Now you can add the tomato sauce and leave on the heat for 4-5 minutes stirring when necessary. Cut thinly half of your basil leaves and add them to the sauce.

Meanwhile, bring a pot of lightly salted water to boil. Cook the tortelli for 2-3 minutes, then transfer into the Norma sauce. Toss gently to coat adding some of the water (be aware of the salt) from the pot if necessary. Finish the dish by grating abundant ricotta salata on the tortelli. Don’t forget the basil leaves on top!