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A Night of Opera, Spaghetti & Bellini

Posted in Abruzzo, Caro Diario.(dear diary..), Country House Living, cucina, cucina povere, entertaining, La Dolce Vita, recipes, slow food, the Mediterranean diet, Uncategorized, Upcoming Appearances, and upcoming books

copyright 2011 art of living, PrimaMedia,Inc/Maria Liberati

Sundays at my grandparents house were filled with pasta and Opera –a squeaky record playing on the stereo or someone breaking  out into song. Spaghetti Norma, named after the famous Opera Norma that was composed by Vincenzo Bellini in the 1800’s is definitely not as tragic as the Opera was meant to be…combining eggplant with tomatoes (fresh is best) this simple dish will inspire someone to spontaneously break out into an aria..and if not, a recorded version will have to do. In fact, an opera aria or two is the perfect combination for Spaghetti Norma….

Although Bellini is a famously named cocktail, it was named after the artist Giovanni Bellini and one of his paintings that resembled the colors of mixing fresh white peach juice with sparkling Prosecco wine, not after this Vincenzo Bellini. But if you want to mix your Norma’s with your Bellini-try the Bellini cocktail before or after this dish.

Serve Spaghetti Norma with a dry red Chianti

Spaghetti Norma

1 pound of spaghetti

1 ½ pounds of red ripe plum tomatoes- preferably fresh

3 small fresh eggplants

2 cloves of garlic-chopped finely

1 handful of fresh basil- washed, dried and chopped

4 tbsps of extra virgin olive oil

2 tbsps olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Wash the eggplants, slice into thin slices and place soak them in a bowl of cold water with a tablespoon of white vinegar and 1 tbsp of gross salt for about two hours.

Peel the tomatoes and take out the seeds. Then cut tomatoes into small pieces. Place 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan, add in the garlic and place over low heat until oil starts to bubble.

Remove from heat and add in tomatoes and chopped basil.. Add in a pinch of salt and pepper. Place over low to medium heat and cook for 15 minutes.

Boil spaghetti and cook till al dente, While spaghetti is cooking- drain and rinse eggplant slices and then dry. Fry eggplant slices in 2 tbsps of olive oil (not extra virgin) till golden brown and then place on absorbent paper to soak up any oil.

Drain pasta. Place in a serving bowl. Cover with sauce that has been prepared, add in eggplant slices and toss. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

For more great recipes, get your copy of the award winning book The Basic Art of Italian Cooking: Holidays & Special Occasions-2nd edition.

Book Signings & On Stage Cooking Appearances:

Saturday, April 30 –Sunday, May 1st– Reston, Virginia-Gourmet Live at Great Grapes Wine Festival. Held on the grounds of the Reston Towne Center.The Basic Art of Italian Cooking demos will be on Sat,4/30-3:30PM and Sunday, 5/1 at 4:30 PM.Book signings will be held throughout the weekend, For more info,email:

Saturday,May 14th, from 1- 3 PM Book signing at Fante’s Kitchenware Store , 9th street in Philadelphia’s Italian market. The Italian festival will be taking place all that weekend.

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Designed by Brian Hanshaw

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