Spring has sprung and  one of our favorite dishes to make with all of the wonderful spring bounty that is to be had in the farmer’s markets is Spaghetti alla Norma. In Sarasota, Florida, where we live, there are 7 farmer’s markets where vendors of fruits and vegetables, fresh gulf fish, and even a traveling crepérie ply their wares and there are some fabulous foodie finds.  Many of those with stands have only recently become produce farmers.   Recently I met someone whose family had been sod farmers, I was amazed to learn that due to the downturn in the economy her family has turned to growing fabulous vegetables and flowers. They were able to use the Obama administration stimulus money to assist them in diversifying their crops and making their land create income.  Like many who go to the farmer’s markets, when we go it is part shopping expedition and part amusement park visit.  We almost always find unplanned gems that we must purchase, and then wonder what we will do with them when we get them home.

One of the dishes we’ve made with the bounty of vegetables we’ve bought at the farmer’s market is Pasta alla Norma.  This is a recipe we have taught in our home cooking class and is delicious.  This dish was named after Vincenzo Bellini’s opera, Norma.  It is a typical Sicilian pasta recipe, flavorful, fresh, and even vegetarian.  It is exceptional with fresh farmer’s market produce.












(From How to Cook Italian by Giuliano Hazan)


A Perfect and Easy Pasta for Fresh Vegetables

  1. 1 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes
  2. 1 small clove garlic
  3. 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  4. Salt
  5. 1 pound eggplant
  6. 1 pound spaghetti
  7. 6 ounces whole milk mozzarella
  8. 10-12 fresh basil leaves
  1. Peel the tomatoes and cut them into 1/2 inch dice.
  2. Put the olive oil and garlic in a 12” skillet over medium high heat. As soon as the garlic begins to sizzle, after 1-2 minutes, add the tomatoes and season with salt. Cook for about 10 minutes, or until the liquid the tomatoes release has evaporated.
  3. While the tomatoes are cooking, peel the eggplant and cut into 3/4 inch dice.
  4. Fill a pot for the pasta with at least 6 quarts of water, place over high heat, and bring to a boil.
  5. When the liquid from the tomatoes has evaporated add the diced eggplant to the pan. Cover and cook until the eggplant is tender, about 15 minutes. Uncover the pan and, if the sauce seems watery, raise the heat and cook until it has reduced. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  6. Add about 2 tablespoons salt to the boiling water, put in the spaghetti, and stir until all the strands are submerged. Cook until al dente.
  7. While the pasta is cooking, cut the mozzarella into 1/4 inch dice. Put the pan with the sauce back on medium heat. Coarsely shred the basil (by hand or with a knife) and add it to the pan. When the pasta is done, drain it well. Toss it with the sauce and the diced mozzarella and serve at once.

Serves 4 as a main course or 6 as part of a multi-course Italian meal

Preparation time: 45 minute(s)

Cooking time: 30 minute(s)

Diet type: Vegetarian

Number of servings (yield): 4

Meal type: dinner

Culinary tradition: Italian