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Pasta Alla Norma

by AI Chef
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Pasta Alla Norma

If there’s one dish that captures the essence of Sicilian cuisine, it’s undoubtedly Pasta Alla Norma. This traditional pasta recipe, hailing from the sun-drenched island of Sicily, is a perfect balance of flavors, textures, and heartwarming goodness.

Named after Vincenzo Bellini’s opera “Norma,” this dish is said to represent the perfect harmony of flavors, just like the opera’s exquisite music. Indeed, Pasta Alla Norma is a symphony in its own right, a symphony of simple yet robust ingredients that come together to create an unforgettable culinary experience.

The foundation of Pasta Alla Norma is a bed of perfectly al dente tubular pasta. We recommend using calamarata or rigatoni for their ability to hold the chunky sauce. And speaking of the sauce – it’s an uncomplicated yet flavorful concoction of tomatoes, garlic, and red pepper flakes, thickened with double-concentrated tomato paste.

The star ingredient, however, is the eggplant. Golden brown pieces of this versatile vegetable, cooked to perfection in a drizzle of olive oil, infuse the sauce with their rich, slightly sweet flavor. A sprinkling of coarsely chopped oregano adds a touch of herbaceous freshness to the mix, rounding off the flavors beautifully.

What truly sets Pasta Alla Norma apart is the finishing touch – a generous topping of shaved ricotta salata. This semi-hard Italian cheese adds a delightful salty tang, beautifully complementing the sweetness of the tomatoes and eggplant. A handful of torn basil leaves, strewn over the top and a crack of freshly ground black pepper complete the picture.

Making Pasta Alla Norma is an exercise in simplicity and patience. It’s about letting each ingredient shine, about savoring the process as much as the final result. It’s a dish that doesn’t merely feed the body; it nourishes the soul.

So next time you’re in the mood for an Italian classic, give Pasta Alla Norma a try. Whether you’re cooking for a family dinner or a special occasion, this dish is sure to steal the show. After all, who can resist the lure of pasta, eggplant, and cheese, all enveloped in a rich tomato sauce? Not us, that’s for sure!

Pasta Alla Norma

Rating: 5.0/5
( 1 voted )
Serves: 4 Prep Time: Cooking Time: Nutrition facts: 560 calories 38g fat



  • 1 28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes
  • ⅓ cup plus 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb. Japanese or globe eggplant, cut into ½" pieces
  • 2½ tsp. kosher salt, divided, plus more
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • ½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 Tbsp. double-concentrated tomato paste
  • 2 Tbsp. coarsely chopped oregano
  • 1 lb. tubular pasta (such as calamarata or rigatoni)
  • 4 oz. ricotta salata, shaved
  • Torn basil leaves (for serving)
  • Freshly ground black pepper.


  1. Crush one 28-oz. can of whole peeled tomatoes with your hands. Set aside.
  2. Heat ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil in a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium-high. Add the eggplant, and sprinkle with 1 tsp. salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until eggplant is softened and golden brown, 6–8 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.
  3. Heat the remaining 2 Tbsp. Olive oil in the same pot over medium-high. Cook the garlic and red pepper flakes, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, until darkened in color, about 2 minutes. Add the oregano, 1½ tsp. salt, and reserved tomatoes. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce is slightly thickened about 5 minutes. Return eggplant to pot and cook, occasionally stirring, until eggplant is completely tender and flavors have melded about 2 minutes.
  4. Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup of pasta cooking liquid.
  5. Add pasta and ½ cup of pasta cooking liquid to the sauce. Cook, stirring often and adding more pasta cooking liquid if needed, until sauce is thickened and coats pasta, about 2 minutes.
  6. Divide pasta among shallow bowls. Top with the ricotta salata, dividing evenly, and torn basil leaves. Season with freshly ground black pepper​

Buon appetito!

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