Pasta alla Norma is a famous Sicilian dish with a chunky, herb infused eggplant and tomato sauce. And it’s just too good!
It’s a light, meatless pasta meal, yet the firm, buttery eggplant gives it a heartiness that will keep your appetite satisfied.
This one definitely deserves a spot in your rotation!
This pasta all norma is one dish we’ve been wanting to cook for you for some time. It’s a cozy and comfort foody, yet light and healthy at the same time. How cool!
Why You’ll Love this Eggplant Pasta
- Although it’s made with simple ingredients, pasta alla norma has a fancy Italian restaurant feel. Great for serving to guests.
- The big eggplant chunks give the dish a hearty, almost meaty texture. So vegetarians and meat eaters alike will dig in with equal gusto.
- Although it’s not a low-cal dish, due to a good dose of olive oil, it’s a good healthy meal. Very Mediterranean Diet worthy.
- It makes for great leftovers. Double up the recipe for some mighty tasty Italian meal prep.
What is Pasta alla Norma
Pasta alla Norma is a Sicilian pasta dish with tomato sauce and eggplant.
Originally, it was called pasta con le melanzane, meaning “pasta with eggplant”. It was later renamed in honor of the famous Italian opera Norma.
It is a simple dish that is delicately seasoned with herbs, in order to allow the eggplant to shine through.
Pasta alla Norma Ingredients
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Tomatoes – Today, we are using canned cherry tomatoes, a recent discovery of ours. 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 chili flakes, salt and pepper.
- Pasta – We used rigatoni, but spaghetti is also common.
- Cheese – Ricotta salata is traditional, but hard to find in the States. In it’s absence, use parmesan.
How to Make Pasta alla Norma
1. Roast the eggplant: Preheat oven to 425°F. Peel off strips of the eggplant skin lengthwise, leaving some behind in a zebra-striped pattern. Cut it into half inch rounds.
Place the rounds onto a baking sheet lined with lightly oiled parchment paper (use two baking sheets, if necessary). Brush liberally with extra virgin olive oil. They tend to soak up a lot, we used about half of a cup. Season with salt and pepper.
Roast for 35-40 minutes, flipping halfway through and brushing with more olive oil. Check for doneness, the eggplant should be soft and golden, but still hold its shape.
2. Prepare the sauce: Sauté the garlic and red chili flakes in more olive oil, until the garlic becomes fragrant. Add in the tomatoes and herbs.
Bring to a low simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes. Taste and adjust for salt. If the sauce is too acidic, add a little sugar as necessary.
3. Boil the pasta: While the eggplant is roasting and the sauce simmering, boil the pasta to al dente, according to the directions on the package. 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 chunks too much.
Add in the pasta and reserved pasta water. Toss and cook till warmed through. Garnish with finely shredded ricotta salata (or parmesan), and more fresh basil. Serve immediately.
Can I Use Jarred Marinara Sauce?
Yes, you can simply simmer some marinara sauce with the basil for a few minutes prior to adding the eggplant. However, as the eggplant takes some time to roast, you are really not saving yourself any time.
This is a dish that really deserves homemade. If you want to make the sauce ahead of time, that is an option. You can make a big batch of my Homemade Marinara, and get several meals out of it.
Leftovers and Storage
You can refrigerate leftover pasta alla norma in an airtight container for 4-5 days. Reheat over medium heat on stovetop, adding a splash of water if necessary.
So there you go, one more restaurant quality Italian dish for you to enjoy. This is a great company meal, and you can even serve it to vegetarian guests. It’s so good, you’ll be craving pasta alla norma again and again.
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Pasta alla Norma, in our Gypsy Bowl… enjoy!
- 2 eggplants, partially peeled and cut into half inch rounds
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 5 garlic cloves
- 1 tsp red chili flakes
- 28oz canned tomatoes (see note 1)
- 1/4 cup fresh basil, cut into strips (plus more for garnish)
- 1.5 tsp dried Italian seasoning
- 8-10oz rigatoni (or your pasta of choice)
- salt, to taste
- pepper, to taste
- sugar, if needed
- ricotta salata (or parmesan), for garnish
- Preheat oven to 425°F.
- Place the eggplant rounds onto a baking sheet lined with lightly oiled parchment paper (use two baking sheets, if necessary). Brush liberally with extra virgin olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
- Roast for 35-40 minutes, flipping halfway through and brushing with more olive oil. Check for doneness, the eggplant should be soft and golden, but still hold its shape.
- In a large skillet or pan, sauté the garlic and red chili flakes in 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, until the garlic becomes fragrant.
- Mix in the tomatoes and herbs. Bring to a low simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes.
- Taste and adjust for salt. If the sauce is too acidic, add a little sugar as necessary.
- Boil the pasta to al dente, according to the directions on the package.
- Reserve some pasta water for later use before draining (we used 1/4 cup).
Finish the Pasta alla Norma
- Add the eggplant to the tomato sauce. Mix gently, so as not to break up the chunks too much.
- Add in the pasta and reserved pasta water. Toss and cook till warmed through.
- Garnish with finely shredded ricotta salata (or parmesan), and more fresh basil. Serve immediately.
- We used canned cherry tomatoes, which are available online, and in some specialty grocery stores. In their absence, use canned whole tomatoes and crush them with your hands in a bowl before using.
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