Sicilian Cooking Class – Part I: Pasta Alla Norma

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[Editor’s Note: Hi All – we are actually safely back in the USA. We just returned, but I have a few more days of posts. So keep traveling with us! We will update with more news of our future plans as we go along.]

Frank and I are at the agriturismo, Baglio di Pianetto, which is a fabulous place in the middle of nowhere about 30 miles from Palermo. Super peaceful and scenic overlooking the vineyards.

But today, we have a job – learning from the chef himself. We have a private cooking class – all in Italian! We made pasta, swordfish rolls, and cannoli – all from scratch!

I am breaking this blog into three parts so I can post the recipe from each dish – mainly so we can remember how to make when we get home.

FIRST COURSE (PRIMI PIATTI) – PASTA ALLA NORMA

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Prep eggplant: 3 medium. Remove skins on 1/2 so looks striped. Cube and put in bowl with two pinches of salt. Shake so mixed up and let sit (to draw out bitterness). Later, rinse and fry until color of brown/blond hair (about 5 minutes) – alternatively, roast on 425 for about 20 minutes.

Sauce: Combine 1 minced garlic clove and 1 minced onion with olive oil. Add 500 g tomatoes (or jar), plus 1/2 jar of water. Add whole basil leaves. Cook on medium for about 15 minutes. Once eggplant is fried, add to mixture.

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Pasta (Strangujet): Combine and filter 50 g semolina, 400 grams farina. Beat egg with little water and salt. Put flour on table and make a “hole”. Pour egg mixture inside and then knead, adding water or oil as needed. Should be “soft as a baby’s bum” – that is very loosely translated. Roll out in long round strings and cut into gnocchi-sized squares. Roll with thumb so rounds over on itself. Will take about 15-20 minutes to cook.

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We actually made this on our own later (although we used store-bought pasta) – and was delicious!

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