Pasta alla Norma – GypsyPlate

Pasta a la Norma is a famous Sicilian dish with herb-infused eggplant and tomato sauce. And it’s just too good!

It’s a light, meatless pasta meal, but the firm, buttery eggplant gives it a consistency that will keep your appetite satisfied.

This one definitely deserves a spot in your rotation!

We at GypsyPlate are big fans of eggplants. Creamy and tasty condiments like caponata and Moutabalto decadent dishes like eggplant parmesan and Moussakait’s one of our favorites.

This pasta all norma is a dish that we have wanted to cook for you for some time. It’s a cozy and comforting dish, but light and healthy at the same time. How cool!

Pasta alla Norma is a classic Sicilian eggplant and pasta dish.  It's a great company meal, as well as a meatless nighttime option!
  • Although made with simple ingredients, pasta alla norma has a fine Italian restaurant feel. Ideal for serving to guests.
  • The large chunks of eggplant give the dish a hearty, almost meaty texture. Thus, vegetarians and meat eaters will feast with the same enthusiasm.
  • Although not a low calorie dish, thanks to a good dose of olive oil, it is a good healthy meal. Very worthy of a Mediterranean diet.
  • It makes great leftovers. Double the recipe for a tasty Italian meal prep.
Pasta alla Norma is a classic Sicilian eggplant and pasta dish.  It's a great company meal, as well as a meatless nighttime option!

Pasta alla Norma is a Sicilian pasta dish with tomato sauce and eggplant.

Originally it was called melanzane pasta, meaning “eggplant pasta”. It was later renamed in honor of the famous Italian opera norma.

It is a simple dish delicately seasoned with herbs, in order to let the aubergine shine through.

Pasta alla Norma is a classic Sicilian eggplant and pasta dish.  It's a great company meal, as well as a meatless nighttime option!
  • eggplant
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Tomatoes – Today we use canned cherry tomatoes, one of our recent discoveries. In their absence, use whole canned tomatoes and break them up with your hands.
  • Herbs – Fresh basil and dried Italian seasoning.
  • Other flavor enhancers – Garlic, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.
  • Pasta – We used rigatoni, but spaghetti is also common.
  • Cheese – Ricotta salata is traditional, but hard to find in the United States. Alternatively, use parmesan.

1. Roast the eggplant: Preheat the oven to 425°F. Peel off strips of eggplant skin lengthwise, leaving a few in a zebra pattern. Cut it into half-inch rounds.

Place rounds on a baking sheet lined with lightly oiled parchment paper (use two baking sheets, if necessary). Brush generously with extra virgin olive oil. They tend to soak up a lot, we used about half a cup. Season with salt and pepper.

Roast for 35-40 minutes, flipping halfway through cooking and brushing with more olive oil. Check for doneness, eggplant should be tender and golden but still retain their shape.

roasted eggplant on a baking sheet

2. Prepare the sauce: Sauté the garlic and red pepper flakes in more olive oil, until the garlic becomes fragrant. Add tomatoes and herbs.

tomatoes added to pan

Bring to a low boil and cook for 15 to 20 minutes. Taste and adjust salt. If the sauce is too acidic, add a little sugar if necessary.

finished tomato sauce

3. Boil the pasta: While the eggplant roasts and the sauce simmers, boil the pasta al dente, according to package directions. Reserve some pasta water for later use before draining (we used 1/4 cup).

4. Finish the dish: Add the eggplant to the tomato sauce. Mix gently so as not to break up the pieces too much.

add eggplant to the sauce

Add pasta and reserved pasta water. Mix and cook until heated through. Garnish with finely grated ricotta salata (or Parmesan cheese) and fresh basil. Serve immediately.

Pasta alla Norma is a classic Sicilian eggplant and pasta dish.  It's a great company meal, as well as a meatless nighttime option!

Yes, you can simply simmer some marinara sauce with the basil for a few minutes before adding the eggplant. However, since eggplant takes a while to roast, you really don’t save time.

This is a dish that really deserves to be homemade. If you want to make the sauce ahead of time, that’s an option. You can make a big batch of my homemade marinaraand get several meals out of it.

You can refrigerate leftover pasta alla norma in an airtight container for 4 to 5 days. Reheat over medium heat on the stove, adding a little water if necessary.

Pasta alla Norma is a classic Sicilian eggplant and pasta dish.  It's a great company meal, as well as a meatless nighttime option!

So there you have it, yet another restaurant-quality Italian dish to enjoy. It’s a great company meal, and you can even serve it to vegetarian guests. It’s so good that you’ll want pasta alla norma again and again.

Be sure to save or pin this recipe so you always know where to find it. And don’t forget to subscribe to GypsyPlate, we are always concocting new recipes for you!

portion of pasta alla norma in the gypsy bowl

Check out these other great pasta recipes!
Primavera Shrimp
Linguine with clams
Mediterranean pasta
Spaghetti with meat sauce
Diavolo prawns
Gigi Hadid Pasta
Ground Turkey Pasta

Ingredients

  • 2 eggplants, partially peeled and cut into half-inch rounds

  • Extra virgin olive oil

  • 5 garlic cloves

  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

  • 28 oz canned tomatoes (see note 1)

  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, cut into strips (plus more for garnish)

  • 1.5 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning

  • 8-10oz rigatoni (or your pasta of choice)

  • salt, to taste

  • Pepper to taste

  • sugar, if needed

  • ricotta (or parmesan) salata, for garnish

Instructions

Roasted Eggplant

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  2. Place the eggplant slices on a baking sheet lined with lightly oiled parchment paper (use two baking sheets, if necessary). Brush generously with extra virgin olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Roast for 35-40 minutes, flipping halfway through cooking and brushing with more olive oil. Check for doneness, eggplant should be tender and golden but still retain their shape.

make gravy

  1. In a large skillet or saucepan, sauté the garlic and red pepper flakes in 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, until the garlic becomes fragrant.
  2. Mix tomatoes and herbs. Bring to a low boil and cook for 15 to 20 minutes.
  3. Taste and adjust salt. If the sauce is too acidic, add a little sugar if necessary.

Boil the pasta

  1. Boil pasta al dente, according to package directions.
  2. Reserve some pasta water for later use before draining (we used 1/4 cup).

Finish the Pasta alla Norma

  1. Add the eggplant to the tomato sauce. Mix gently so as not to break up the pieces too much.
  2. Add pasta and reserved pasta water. Mix and cook until heated through.
  3. Garnish with finely grated ricotta salata (or Parmesan cheese) and fresh basil. Serve immediately.

Remarks

  1. We used canned cherry tomatoes, available online and at some specialty grocery stores. In their absence, use whole canned tomatoes and mash them with your hands in a bowl before using them.

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