Dear Noelle, I don't make homemade manicotti shells. I buy my shells imported from Italy at an Italian store. But,…
In all of Italy, but especially in Sicily, eggplant is a staple of the Mediterranean diet. You never tire of this versatile vegetable because there are so many interesting ways to prepare it! Plus, for those vegetarians out there, eggplant can be a staple, like a meat! Pasta alla Norma is the traditional Sicilian dish Lisa ate growing up and it is a recipe that never fails. Here is Lisa’s classic version. In Italy you will sometimes find “panna da cucina” (cooking cream) or besciamella added to the tomato sauce (Lisa used her favorite brand of packaged Besciamella from Esselunga in Italy- Chef!- but you can also make the sauce from scratch (see Lisa’s recipe in Whatever Happened to Sunday Dinner!)). Pasta alla Norma is another “layering” dish which is easy for members of your family to help you prepare in the kitchen. Watch how Lisa layers and puts together this dish herself on Tik Tok, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube!
Lisa’s Pasta alla Norma Ingredients:
4 large eggplants, peeled and sliced in rounds approximately 1/8” thick
Lisa’s Authentic Classic Tomato Sauce
2 lbs penne or rigatoni
1 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Lisa’s Pasta alla Norma Directions:
Place sliced eggplant in a larger colander in the sink, making sure to salt each layer of eggplant. Allow eggplant to “cry” for at least 30 minutes. (Watch Lisa’s video on how to let your eggplant cry here!) Then rinse each piece of eggplant to rid them of salt and bitter juices. Pat dry with paper towels. Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan and sauté a few slices of eggplant at a time, turning them until golden on both sides. Do not allow to burn. (To prevent eggplant from burning, add more olive oil to the pan.) Set sautéed eggplant aside.
Meanwhile, bring a large pan of water to boil. Prepare a large casserole, preferably 13” x 9” and approximately 2 ½” deep, by coating the bottom of the casserole with tomato sauce.
Cook the pasta al dente, at least 3-4 minutes less than ordinary time. Drain, set aside.
Begin layering pasta, sauce, eggplant, and cheese until the casserole is full. (The eggplant should be placed overlapping each other slightly.) When the casserole is full, place layer of sauce on top and cover with cheese.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.