Pasta alla Norma

If there’s one thing I’m certain about, it’s that the universe of Italian pasta is boundless and full of delectable surprises. Each pasta dish tells a story—about its region of origin, the people who created it, and even the occasions it was enjoyed. Today, I’m going to share a pasta recipe that tells a story from my own life, a recipe for Pasta alla Norma.

My first encounter with Pasta alla Norma was during a trip to Sicily, the sun-soaked island known for its rich history, stunning landscapes, and hearty cuisine. It was in a small, family-run trattoria tucked away in the narrow streets of Catania, the city that’s believed to have given birth to this beloved dish. The restaurant was bathed in the warm, golden glow of the setting sun and filled with the intoxicating aroma of simmering tomato sauce and frying eggplants.

I remember sitting down at a rustic wooden table, the chatter of locals all around, and ordering the Pasta alla Norma. As I watched the chefs work their magic in the open kitchen, the anticipation was palpable. And when the dish arrived, it was love at first sight – or rather, at first bite. The silky strands of pasta were coated in a rich tomato sauce, punctuated by chunks of deeply caramelized eggplant, all topped with a generous sprinkling of salty ricotta salata. It was a symphony of flavors that sang a song of Sicily with every mouthful.

That’s the magic of Pasta alla Norma – it captures the essence of Sicilian cuisine, using simple ingredients that come together to create a dish that’s both comforting and vibrant, just like the island itself. Let’s recreate that Sicilian magic in our own kitchens with this recipe.


Pasta alla Norma

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 2
Calories 600 kcal


  • 200 g Rigatoni or Penne
  • 2 medium eggplants, cut into cubes
  • 400 g canned peeled tomatoes or fresh ripe tomatoes
  • 1 large onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 handful basil leaves
  • 100 g ricotta
  • salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • olive oil


  • Begin by salting the cubed eggplant and leaving it to drain in a colander for about 30 minutes. This helps to draw out any bitterness. Rinse and pat dry.
  • Heat a generous amount of olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the eggplant cubes and fry until they're golden brown and tender. Once done, remove them from the pan and set aside.
  • In the same pan, add a little more oil if needed, then sauté the chopped onion until it becomes translucent. Add the minced garlic and cook for another minute.
  • Crush the tomatoes with your hands and add them to the pan, along with their juice. Season with salt and pepper, then let the sauce simmer for about 20 minutes, or until it thickens.
  • While the sauce is simmering, cook your pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente.
  • Stir the fried eggplant cubes into the tomato sauce, reserving a few for garnish.
  • Drain the pasta, reserving a cup of pasta water. Add the pasta to the sauce, tossing well to combine. If needed, add a little pasta water to loosen the sauce.
  • Tear in the fresh basil leaves and stir through the pasta.
Keyword eggplant, italian, pasta, veggie

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