Pasta alla Norma is a flavorful pasta dish that you can whip up easily. The eggplant and simple sauce are the stars in this recipe that you can get on the table without much fuss. You’ll love the big flavor of this dish.
The summer season and a little beyond is a good time to make Pasta alla Norma thanks to one of my favorite veggies, eggplant. Yes, technically eggplant is a fruit, but I’m not adding it to my smoothies or cereal or fruit salads anytime soon!
Most people I know are either Team Eggplant or they’re not. Obvi I’m Team Eggplant or I wouldn’t be here with this recipe that delivers a fabulous, meatless pasta dish!
Check out a few more of my favorite recipes with eggplant: Grilled Eggplant with Cherries and Couscous Salad (amazing!); Layered Eggplant-Potato Bake (a Grab a Plate readers’ favorite); and Grilled Eggplant Burgers with Spicy Garlic Spread (you won’t miss the meat).
If you have basil growing nearby, pick a few leaves to use in the sauce for this Sicilian pasta. It’s a super-simple dish that’s big on flavor and one that is so easy to make.
Serve it up on a Meatless Monday for s substantial meal. Serve it for a Sunday dinner, or make it on a Wednesday and save some leftovers for lunch the next day. Whenever you make it, take advantage of the season that brings us this purple jewel of a veggie (fruit).
How to Prep Your Eggplant for Pasta alla Norma
One of the first steps to this recipe is to prepare the eggplant. Whenever you’re cooking with eggplant you’ll want to salt it first and let it drain out a little liquid that it holds onto. Otherwise, your eggplant will have a bitter taste to it.
- Place a layer of paper towels down on a baking pan.
- Slice off the ends and use a vegetable peeler to peel away strips from the eggplant’s skin. I leave on some skin for color and texture.
- Slice the eggplant into 2-inch rounds.
- Add the eggplant slices to the baking pan in a single layer.
- Sprinkle each round with some salt.
- Let the rounds sit for 20-30 minutes. You’ll see liquid pool on top of each slice.
- Rinse with water and pat dry.
Pasta alla Norma is a hearty dish that brings so much flavor to the table with just a little effort. The tomato sauce is a quick, homemade option that you could use fresh tomatoes for, or the canned or boxed sort. For this recipe, I used boxed crushed tomatoes.
Keep this recipe on hand, even just for the sauce. It’s one you won’t ever need to even write down – make it once, and it sticks with you due to its simplicity. You can add to it whatever seasonings and ingredients you’d like.
Pasta is a staple dish and whenever I have an option to serve it in a different way, I jump on it! Serve this dish with Italian bread to use to scoop up every bit of the sauce from this dish.
You’ll love Pasta alla Norma. Reach for this recipe to make any night of the week as part of a fast and flavorful meal.
Patricia Conte/Grab a Plate
Serves Serves 4
5 based on 7 review(s)
- 8 ounces rigatoni pasta
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 medium eggplant, peeled slightly (I peel the eggplant every-other line)
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1, 17-ounce container of crushed tomatoes
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- 4 basil leaves, cut into ribbons
- 2-4 ounces ricotta salata cheese, shredded (you could use Feta cheese or grated Parmesan)
- Add a few paper towels on a baking pan. Slice the eggplant into 2-inch rounds and add them to the pan in a single layer. Sprinkle each with salt and let sit for 20-30 minutes to draw out liquid from the eggplant, which makes it taste bitter. When ready, rinse each slice, pat them dry, then cut into 2-inch cubes.
- Add 2 tablespoons of the oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the eggplant pieces in one layer. You may have to fry the eggplant in batches, adding the remaining oil as needed.
- Fry until browned, remove and pat with a paper towel.
- Add salted water to a pan to cook the pasta over high heat. Once it’s boiling, add the pasta to cook.
- Use the oil from the eggplant and the same skillet to make the sauce, removing some of the oil from the skillet, as needed. Reduce the heat to low.
- Add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the tomato pasta and break it up and stir with the garlic.
- Increase the heat to medium-low. Add the crushed tomatoes, season with salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Stir to combine.
- When the pasta is finished, drain it.
- Add the basil to the tomato sauce.
- Add the eggplant to the sauce and stir to combine.
- Add the pasta to the skillet, stirring to combine and to coat all the pasta with the sauce.
- Transfer to serving bowls, and top with the ricotta salata cheese.