Monday, 12 November 2012

Shut Up Norma!

Pizzette "Linguine di Norma"
Little "Pizza Tongues" alla Norma

Both pasta and pizza with the combination of tomato, eggplant and basil, with either salted Ricotta or cheese, were so well loved in 19th century Sicily, that both dishes were named after Bellini's equally universally adored opera Norma- a name that has remained until this day! In fact, it could probably be said that pasta alla Norma is Sicily's national dish.

So this evening, the plan was to make a pizza alla Norma- and that would have been delicious, but too boring... I wanted to do something that was a little fun! So I came up with the idea of making these pizza strips, perfect for parties, fun to eat and easy to put together! And I hope you will excuse me for the name I gave the dish and indeed this post... but these handy little pizza strips do give a whole new meaning to "holding your tongue" after all!

This was another of my "baked on the grill-pan" pizza dishes... which was where I started- by cutting the pizza dough into strips of around 3" wide and the length of the eggplant and pre-cooking them on the pan to get the dough firm, lightly browned and patterned with those typical grill marks! You can't get much easier than that!

Once the pizza bases were done, I added a little olive oil to the pan, a few slices of garlic and the eggplant, cut length-ways into strips. after 2-3 minutes of browning, without flipping or moving at all, I added a splash of water, which immediately turned to steam and lifted all of good flavor of the garlic from the base of the pan and of course helped to get the eggplant cooked and tender quicker. I sprinkled it with some of my seasoned "Salt of the Earth" and flipped it over for a further 2-3 minutes from the other side. After that time, the eggplant strips were golden brown and soft and juices- and ready to be set to one side whilst I prepared my basic tomato sauce!

I deglazed the pan for a second time, this time around with a little tomato juice. I swiftly stirred up the toasted garlic from the base of the pan and then added a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste, along with some finely chopped basil, a sprinkle of oregano, a pinch of sugar, a little more olive oil, salt, pepper and a dash of Tabasco for a little extra "oomph!"

As soon as this makeshift sauce began to bubble and thicken again, I poured it into a little bowl, ready to use for dressing my pizza... but wonderfully reducing the hard work of cleaning my pan later on! It's good to be lazy and work economically when it comes to those  awkward tasks in the kitchen- like scraping baked-on pan bases out after soaking... ugh!

So all that was left to do now, was to spoon some of the simple tomato sauce onto the pizza bases, lay a strip of eggplant down on each, sprinkle with grated salted Ricotta or parmesan and pop into the oven, pre-heated to the highest setting and to finish baking for 5-10 minutes. In the meantime, I snipped a handful of basil leaves into fine strips using my kitchen scissors, ready to sprinkle on top of the finished pizza slices as soon as they came out of the oven... mmm- a delicious finishing touch!

I hope you like these little snacks- I am sure that both Bellini and beautiful Norma would approve of them too! Enjoy!

No comments:

Post a Comment