Tips & Recipes
A culinary Giro d'Italia: Sicilian Pasta alla Norma
Learn how to make the meal our riders ate the night before racing up Mount Etna
After its Hungarian overture, the 2022 Giro d’Italia returns to Italy to climb its first dramatic peak.
On stage four, the peloton will race from Avola to the Rifugio Sapienza, a ski station located high on the slopes of Mount Etna, the black volcano which towers over Sicily’s sandy beaches, citrus groves, and rocky coast, often spitting lava and ash into the blue Mediterranean sky. It will be the first big test for the protagonists in the race for the pink jersey. Expect fireworks. The next stage will be no less dramatic. After a languid start by the sea in Catania, the race turns inland to climb the Portella Mandrazzi, and then heads north for a sprint-finish crescendo in the old Sicilian harbour city of Messina. The designers of this year’s Giro have created a masterpiece.
The meal that our riders ate the night before the stage up Mount Etna was named after another masterpiece. Pasta all norma was named in honour of Catania native Vincenzo Bellini, who composed the opera Norma. It is, like the best Sicilian cuisine, a simple, harmonious dish, made of pasta in tomato sauce with slices of aubergine and grated ricotta.
Quick and easy to prepare, it is only as good as its ingredients. Our team chef, Owen Blandy, always tries to include local flavour in our riders’ race meals.
“The taste of Sicily will be there for the boys,” he said, when he returned from his first Sicilian supermarket.
1 large aubergine
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
6 ripe tomatoes
2 tbsp grated ricotta salata
Serves three to four (or two hungry cyclists)
Dice the aubergine and put it in a colander
Sprinkle with salt and leave to sit for 30 minutes
Heat the oven to 230C
Rinse the aubergine in cold water and pat dry, before tossing in a bowl with half the oil
Bake the aubergine for about 15-20 minutes until caramelised, turning occasionally
Meanwhile, heat the other half of the oil in a pan over a medium heat and add the garlic. Saute for a couple of minutes
Add the tomatoes and half the basil and bring to a simmer. Cook slowly for about 20 to 30 minutes until thickened
Once the sauce is almost ready, cook the pasta in plenty of boiling salted water to your liking
Add the aubergine to the sauce and discard the basil
Drain the pasta and toss in the sauce
Put the pasta on plates and sprinkle with the ricotta and remaining basil leaves