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Pasta alla Norma

Pasta alla Norma

Pasta alla Norma

Barbera D'Alba

Barbera D’Alba

Pasta alla Norma originated in Sicily and is perfect for a small gathering. It is believed to be named after the famous opera called Norma. It’s easy and made with a few ingredients including my favorite veggie: eggplant! In this recipe, I am using whole canned tomatoes but you can use fresh tomatoes if they are in season. This is a great meal for vegetarians depending on their diet lifestyles (with or without the cheese). I served a salad with the pasta and my family ate to their heart’s content. Put on your apron and follow me in the kitchen.

Level of difficulty: Easy to intermediate

Serves 6-8 as a main meal

• 1 medium eggplant, chopped in medium size
• ¼ – ½ cup of olive oil
• 3 garlic cloves, chopped
• 1 – (28) ounce can whole San Marzano tomatoes
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 5-6 basil leaves cut in chiffonade, plus more for garnish
• ¼ cup pasta water, as needed
• Ricotta Salata cheese, for garnish
• 1-pound penne, rigatoni or spaghetti


1. In a medium-sized saucepan, on medium-high heat, heat up oil, sauté the garlic, 1-2 minutes, add the eggplant, cook while stirring for 5-7 minutes. Adjust the heat as necessary. Add the tomatoes, salt, basil. Lower the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes covered with lid tilted. Stir occasionally.  If the sauce is too thick, add water toward the end. (before draining the pasta). Turn the burner off.

2. While the sauce is cooking, bring pasta water to a boil. Add salt and cook al dente. You will be doing a little juggling.

3. Add drained pasta to the sauce and mix well. Serve in a large pasta bowl. Garnish with the cheese and basil.

I paired this meal with a lovely aged Barbera D’Alba from Ca’ Viola winery and it worked magically.

Other wine pairing suggestions: Nero d’Avola, a red grape variety from Sicily or any medium-bodied red wine of your choice.

Happy Cooking from Gina’s Kitchen to Yours,

Gina Martino Zarcadoolas, aka Foodiewinelover
Culinary Personality, Food & Wine Blogger
Author of the cookbook: Cuisines, Corkscrews & Cultures
Level-2 Certified world-renowned – “WSET: Wine, Spirit, Education, Trust”
Level-2 Certified Sommelier

Chef Christo Gonzales, A Legend Is Gone

Chef Christo Gonzales, A Legend Is Gone, But He Left A Legacy Behind.

His name was Christo Gonzales, and he was a Master in the kitchen. He is gone too soon, but one thing is certain, he has left a mark on so many us, in the foodie world. I didn’t know him personally, but we had been Facebook friends for over 4 years.  I always enjoyed his food posts because they were colorful and appealing to the eyes. He was a character, and had a unique sense of humor. He was a gentle soul, with a passion for creating beautiful dishes.  He graced our news feeds with exotic recipes, and vibrant images of delicious food. He  was a family man, and adored his son, Jackson.  Chef Christo had great work ethics, and always willing to help anyone with any food-related questions. I have compiled some of HIS beautiful food photography for your enjoyment.  After seeing his beautiful work in the kitchen, you will realize why so many people, including myself are affected by his untimely death.

If you want to know more about him, please check out this blogpost.


Some of his culinary creations


Chicken Green Chile Soup



Big Cowboy Chili



One of his comfort food, a pasta dish



RIP Chef Christo! Thank you for the wonderful memories, and your great source of inspiration in the kitchen. You were full of life, and your presence will be missed by so many that were passionate about your work.



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