Pasta alla Norma with tender cubes of roasted eggplant, a rich tomato sauce and al dente pasta is easy, delicious and great for simple weeknight dinners.
What is Pasta alla Norma?
Pasta alla Norma is a Sicilian recipe with eggplant/aubergine in tomato sauce. I like roasting the cubes of eggplant until tender and caramelized before stirring into a reduced tomato sauce flavored with garlic, basil and other fresh herbs. It’s the perfect, easy vegetarian dinner recipe.
- Extra virgin olive oil.
- Salt and black pepper.
- Tomato sauce. I used my roasted tomato sauce recipe but you can use any tomato sauce or Marinara sauce of your choice. You could add any herbs like oregano, rosemary, thyme or basil to your sauce to flavor it. A pinch of chilli flakes/red pepper flakes adds a hum of heat that is also delicious.
- Parmesan cheese. Traditional pasta alla Norma is served with aged ricotta salata but I prefer Parmesan or Pecorino Romano. Use a vegetarian or vegan cheese, if preferred.
- Fresh basil.
- Pasta. I used spaghetti but any type of pasta of your choice works. Rigatoni, linguine, penne or fusilli are all good options. Gluten-free pasta can be used if needed.
How to make Pasta alla Norma (summary)
- Roast the eggplant: Place the cubed eggplant in a roasting dish or rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil before seasoning with salt and pepper. Roast for 30 minutes in a hot oven until soft and caramelized then remove and set aside.
- Make the tomato sauce: Make the tomato sauce according to recipe instructions.
- Combine: Transfer the roasted eggplant and any of its juices to the tomato sauce then allow to simmer over medium-high heat for a few minutes. Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted water until al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving a cup of cooking water, then add to the pasta sauce and stir together.
- Serve: Serve the pasta topped with fresh basil and grated Parmesan.
Can I make this ahead?
The sauce can be made up to 4 days in advance and kept in an airtight container in the fridge. Any leftovers can also be refrigerated for up to 4 days and reheated in a large skillet or pan over medium-low heat with a splash of water until hot. The sauce can be frozen for up to 3 months.
Pasta alla Norma
- 2 large eggplant/aubergine cubed
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
For the tomato sauce
- 4 cups roasted tomato sauce
- 500 g (1lb) pasta
- Parmesan cheese grated
- fresh basil leaves
- Preheat the oven to 220°C/430°F.
- Place the cubed eggplant in a roasting dish or rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle over the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss to combine.
- Place the eggplant in the oven and allow to roast for 30 minutes or until soft and caramelized. Remove from the oven and set aside.
- While the eggplant roasts, make the tomato sauce according to recipe instructions.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil then add the pasta and allow to cook for 8-10 minutes, until al dente.
- Once the eggplant is roasted, transfer to the tomato sauce and allow to simmer gently for a few minutes.
- Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of cooking water.
- Add the pasta to the pasta sauce and add a splash of cooking water. Toss to combine.
- Serve the pasta with the grated Parmesan and fresh basil.