Cooking Class: Sicilian Pasta alla Norma with Michael Sampson - Context Travel

Cooking Class: Sicilian Pasta alla Norma with Michael Sampson


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One of Sicily’s most popular dishes, the delicious mix of fried eggplant, tomato sauce, and basil makes it stand out for its simple perfection. Learn how to make this delicious Sicilian staple with a local chef.

Pasta alla Norma got its name when the playwright Nino Bartoglio compared this dish to the Opera “Norma” by Vincenzo Bellini. The story goes that the playwright Nino Martoglio, tasted a dish of this pasta and exclaimed: “Chista è 'na vera Norma!”, or “This is a real Norma!” Together we will learn how to make this naturally vegan (if the optional grating of cheese is left off) Sicilian dish as well as hearing interesting tales about this meal. Participants are invited to watch and discuss or to cook along with this interactive cooking class.

In this hands-on conversation, we are going to see everything we need to know to recreate this dish perfectly, including how to make our own delicious tomato sauce from scratch and the perfect way to cook pasta. Led by a local chef, Michael Sampson, this interactive lesson will have participants making Pasta all Norma like an expert. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an increased understanding of Sicilian cuisine and history and all the tricks and tips necessary to make this dish at home.

Below are the items you’ll want to participate in this class. We will email attendees the full recipe with measurements and instructions prior to the class, so that you can pre-measure ingredients before joining.

Ingredients

  • Eggplant
  • Tomatoes
  • Fresh Basil
  • Rigatoni pasta (or penne works well too)
  • Parmesan cheese (optional)

Special equipment

We don’t list every item you’ll need here (e.g., standard items like knives, bowls, cutting boards). But we do our best to identify items that may not be in every kitchen, and alternatives where possible.

  • A blender to puree the tomatoes
  • A pan for frying
  • A pot for boiling

Michael Sampson trained as a chef at ALMA school of Italian cuisine in the north of Italy and has been living and working in Sicily for the last 12 years. Michael has worked at the Gambero Rosso cookery school in Palermo, was head chef and teacher at the Anna Tasca Lanza cookery school in central Sicily, and for the last 3 years has been running The Sicilian Pantry cookery school in Palermo’s historical centre where he teaches daily cooking lessons covering many traditional Sicilian dishes with guests from all over the world.

This conversation is suitable for all ages

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

Customer Reviews

Based on 5 reviews
80%
(4)
20%
(1)
0%
(0)
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E
E.
Wonderful cooking class!

Michael is a great teacher. He explained everything very clearly, and also shared useful tips throughout the presentation. (I had always drained eggplant after frying on paper towels before - great to learn that is not the way!) Would definitely take more classes from Michael!

D
D.M.
Great!

This was a really great experience, Michael gave us clear explanations and tips to cook this pasta! He also told us curiosities about Sicily and sicilian other tipycal dishes to make at home. I absolutely recommend this conversation for cooking lovers!

J
J.
Amazing cooking class

Michael is wonderful - super informative, knowledgeable, and easy to follow. I so enjoyed eating my pasta alla norma after cooking along.

A
A.

Guest did not leave comment

H
H.K.
Great class

I learned a lot of new techniques and easy ways to make fresh tomato sauce. I now know the right way to cook pasta and what salts are best. The chef is friendly and knowledgeable and has an obvious love of cooking.

Customer Reviews

Based on 5 reviews
80%
(4)
20%
(1)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
E
E.
Wonderful cooking class!

Michael is a great teacher. He explained everything very clearly, and also shared useful tips throughout the presentation. (I had always drained eggplant after frying on paper towels before - great to learn that is not the way!) Would definitely take more classes from Michael!

D
D.M.
Great!

This was a really great experience, Michael gave us clear explanations and tips to cook this pasta! He also told us curiosities about Sicily and sicilian other tipycal dishes to make at home. I absolutely recommend this conversation for cooking lovers!

J
J.
Amazing cooking class

Michael is wonderful - super informative, knowledgeable, and easy to follow. I so enjoyed eating my pasta alla norma after cooking along.

A
A.

Guest did not leave comment

H
H.K.
Great class

I learned a lot of new techniques and easy ways to make fresh tomato sauce. I now know the right way to cook pasta and what salts are best. The chef is friendly and knowledgeable and has an obvious love of cooking.