Pasta alla Norma - a traditional Sicilian pasta dish with eggplant tossed in tomato sauce and garnished with freshly grated Parmesan cheese makes an easy weeknight dinner recipe. After Eggplant Lasagna if there is any vegetarian dinner recipe that will sweep you off your feet, then it is Pasta alla Norma.
So, basically, Pasta alla Norma is made with fried eggplant. But, instead of frying our eggplant, I have roasted it in the oven. But, besides eggplant what you are gonna love is the pasta itself. I have used Angel Hair Pasta to make this recipe. Angel Hair is a brilliant addition to this recipe. Angel hair holds the pasta sauce and makes our recipe so much more flavorful. Though you can use ziti, rigatoni, or spaghetti as well.
I know what you are thinking? What does Pasta alla Norma mean? Where does it come from? So, I did some research for you, and here's what I found.
Legend says that Pasta alla Norma is a traditional Sicilian recipe that originated in Catalina. Now, I won't go into detail about who came up with the name and why is it called Pasta alla Norma and all that boring stuff. Honestly, it's too much to know in one single read. But, you cannot make Pasta alla Norma without knowing the famous Catalonian playwright - Nino Martoglio. He was the man who added the term "Norma" to this famous Catalan dish. Legend has it that when he tried this dish for the very first time, he exclaimed - "chista è 'na vera Norma!" meaning - where is compared the excellent dish to the famous Italian opera composer - Vincenzo Bellini.
So, let me come to the point.
Ingredients you need to make Pasta alla Norma:
Eggplant: Eggplant or Aubergine is the heart of the recipe. Therefore you've got to make sure that you use good quality Eggplant. You can chop them in either thin 1/2 inch round slices or else you can cut them into half-moon slices. Ideally, it is soaked in water and salt for 30-minutes and then deep-fried in extra virgin Olive Oil. But, in this case, we are gonna roast our eggplant in our oven. This will take about 25-30 minutes at 400F.
Olive Oil: You must use a good quality of Olive Oil to make Pasta alla Norma. Italian seasoning tastes best when combined with a good quality of Olive Oil. And, if you are making a true blue Italian recipe, you cannot compromise on the quality of Olive Oil.
Garlic - Garlic is essential to add that kick to our pasta dish. I prefer to mince my garlic and then add it to my recipe. Minced garlic produces the most intense flavors.
Chilies - You can use any variety of chilies available at home. Traditionally Peperoncino is added to this pasta dish. But, I have used Mexican serrano pepper.
Canned Tomatoes & Tomato paste: If you don't want to use canned tomato you can chop fresh tomatoes and add them to your recipe. Along with canned tomatoes, I have used some Tomato paste as well. Tomato Pasta is a super amazing ingredient that adds so much flavor to our Pasta alla Norma.
Pasta: Traditionally short pasta such as rigatoni or casereccie or penne is used to make this recipe. But, I prefer long pasta so that it can hold more flavors.
Cheese: Finally coming back to the most important part of Pasta alla Norma - cheese. Traditionally grated ricotta salata is added to Pasta alla Norma. Ricotta Salata has a salty taste and is aged for nearly 3 years. But, in case you don't have ricotta salata at home, you can use freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
How to Make Pasta alla Norma?
Roast Eggplant: The eggplant is covered in salt, pepper, and extra virgin Olive Oil. Then just place it in your oven and allow it to get roasted for 40-45 minutes. I just love roasted eggplant. Instead of roasting them, you can also fry them in hot oil.
Make Tomato Sauce: In a pan saute garlic and green chilies for 30-seconds until they change color. Next, add in canned tomatoes along with some tomato sauce. Season with Italian Seasoning, Salt, and Pepper. Cook lightly until the sauce is thick but not dry.
Add Eggplant & Pasta in Sauce: Finally, toss roasted eggplant and pasta in the tomato sauce. Taste the seasoning and adjust accordingly. Garnish with ricotta salata. If you don't have Ricotta Salata, garnish with freshly grated Parmesan Cheese.
Other Recipes you can try:
- Roasted Red Pepper Shell Pasta Recipe
- Parmesan Cauliflower Spinach Pasta
- Penne in Cheesy Pumpkin Pasta Sauce with Toasted Pecans
- Easiest Cajun Shrimp Pasta
- Easy White Sauce Penne Pasta
- Baked Rigatoni Pasta with Ground Beef
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Pasta alla Norma
For Roasting Eggplant
- 1½ Pound Eggplant
- Olive Oil to brush eggplant
- Salt and Pepper to season eggplant
For Tomato Sauce
- 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
- 1½ Tablespoon Garlic minced (5-6 cloves)
- 4-5 Small Chilies use any chilies you want
- 1 Can Tomatoes crushed
- 2 Tablespoon Tomato paste
- 1½ Teaspoon Italian Seasoning (Dried Oregano, Dried Thyme, Dried Rosemary, Dried Basil, Dried Parsley)*
- Salt and Pepper as per taste
- 1 Pound Angel Hair Pasta can replace with ziti, rigatoni or any other long hair pasta.
- ½ Cup grated Ricotta salata can replace with Freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
- Chopped Parsley or freshly chopped basil
- Preheat oven to 400F. Grease a 13x9 inch baking sheet with cooking spray.Peel eggplant and slice them into thin 1/2 inch circles. Place them on your baking sheet. Season with Olive Oil, salt, and pepper. Allow them to get completely roasted - golden brown - for at least 25-35 minutes. Make sure you flip them over at the 20-minute mark.
- Cook pasta as per package directions. Drain the water.
Make Tomato Sauce
- In a skillet heat some Olive Oil. As the oil gets partially hot, add minced garlic and chilies. Allow them to saute for a while - 30 to 45 seconds. Add Canned tomato, tomato paste, Italian Seasoning, Salt, and Pepper.
Add Eggplant, Pasta, and Cheese
- Finally, add in roasted eggplant and cooked pasta. Stir lightly to combine. Top with grated Ricotta Salata or Parmesan Cheese. Serve hot.
- You can replace Italian Seasoning with just Dried Oregano
- You can fry your Eggplant in oil. But, soak them in water and salt for 30-minutes. That way they soak less oil while frying.