Pasta

Eggplant Pasta Alla Norma

Pasta alla Norma, a  classic Sicilian eggplant pasta dish with tomato, garlic, basil, and ricotta. It’s an easy and delicious, traditional recipe that the whole family will enjoy.

The thing I love about pasta, specifically authentic Italian pasta is that they hardly ever cost a lot to make but always have incredible flavour. Why? because the ingredient list is always very small but they use the freshest, highest quality ingredients possible which means you will always have a filling meal packed with a punch of flavour.

This eggplant pasta dish is no exception..

Eggplant pasta in tomato sauce in a bowl topped with ricotta cheese and basil torn crusty bread in the background

Fresh Ricotta Vs Ricotta Salata

There are a couple varieties of this dish, one uses ricotta salata which is dried salted ricotta that can be grated and the other uses fresh ricotta, I love both (obviously). The original Sicilian recipe uses ricotta salata which is grated on top at the very end when serving the pasta however it’s much harder to find for people that live outside of Italy. This recipe uses fresh ricotta which is just as delicious, if you can try it both ways then be sure to let me know which one is your favourite!

What Does Pasta Alla Norma Mean?

The name Pasta alla Norma is said to have come from a Sicilian playwriter and producer named Nino Martoglio. As he was eating the pasta he said it was that good he compared it to the opera named “La Norma” meaning it was as great as the Norma.

You can listen to La Norma here I’m sure you will have heard it before, composed by Vincenzo Bellini.

How to Make Eggplant Pasta Alla Norma

Ingredients; Eggplant/Aubergine, pasta shells, passata (pureed tomatoes), basil, garlic, ricotta and salt, pepper and olive oil.

Ingredients for eggplant pasta alla norma laid out on a wooden board.

Step by step instructions

First, slice the eggplant/aubergine into rounds of medium thickness (photo above). Using around 1-2 tbsp of olive oil at a time fry the slices of eggplant until soft and golden on each side. You’ll need to do this in batches then drain the fried slices on kitchen paper (photo 2).

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta shells according to packet instructions until al dente.

Meanwhile, finely slice the garlic and add to the same frying pan with about 2 tsp of olive oil. Fry the garlic for a few seconds (make sure it doesn’t burn or it will taste bitter) then add the passata/pureed tomatoes with a pinch of salt and pepper. Let it simmer gently for 5 minutes (photo 3) if the sauce reduces too much then add a couple tbsp of pasta water this will also help season the sauce and add extra flavour.

Cut the fried eggplant slices in half or quarters for larger slices and add it to the tomato sauce with torn fresh basil (photo 4)

Step by step photos on how to make eggplant pasta alla norma from start to finish

Stir the eggplant and basil into the sauce until thoroughly combined (photo 5) remove the pan from the heat and add 3/4 of the ricotta (photo 6). Stir the ricotta through the eggplant pasta sauce then add the cooked pasta shells, stir everything together until it’s thoroughly combined. Check for seasoning and add more salt if necessary then serve in bowls, top with the remaining ricotta cheese and any leftover basil (photos 7,8,9 & 10).

More easy pasta recipes to try;

A close up of eggplant pasta alla norma with in a bowl topped with ricotta and basil torn bread in the background

If you’ve tried this eggplant pasta alla norma or any other recipe on the blog then don’t forget to rate the recipe and let me know how you got on in the comments below, I love hearing from you! You can also FOLLOW ME on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, INSTAGRAM and PINTEREST to see more delicious food and what I’m getting up to.

5 from 2 votes
Pasta Alla Norma
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
25 mins
Total Time
35 mins
 
Pasta all Norma, a  classic Sicilian eggplant pasta dish with tomato, garlic, basil, and ricotta. It's an easy and delicious, traditional recipe that the whole family will enjoy.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 374 kcal
Author: Emily Kemp
Ingredients
  • 1 large or 2 small Eggplant/Aubergine
  • 14 oz (400g) pasta shells
  • 1.1 lbs (500g) passata/pureed tomatoes
  • 1 large handful fresh basil ,roughly chopped or torn
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 5.9 oz (170g) ricotta
  • salt pepper
  • (150ml) olive oil
Instructions
  1. Slice the eggplant/aubergine into rounds of medium thickness. Using around 1-2 tbsp of olive oil at a time fry the slices of eggplant until soft and golden on each side you'll need to do this in batches then drain the fried slices on kitchen paper.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta shells according to packet instructions until al dente.
  3. Meanwhile, finely slice the garlic and add to the same frying pan you fried the eggplant in with about 2 tsp of olive oil. Fry the garlic for a few seconds (make sure it doesn't burn or it will taste bitter) then add the passata/pureed tomatoes with a pinch of salt and pepper. Let it simmer gently for 5 minutes. If the sauce reduces too much then add a couple tbsp of pasta water this will also help season the sauce and add extra flavour.
  4. Cut the fried eggplant slices in half or quarters for larger slices and add it to the tomato sauce with the fresh basil
  5. Stir the eggplant and basil into the sauce until thoroughly combined. Remove the pan from the heat and add 3/4 of the ricotta. Stir the ricotta through the sauce then add the cooked pasta shells, stir everything together until it's thoroughly combined. Check for seasoning and add more salt if necessary then serve in bowls, top with the remaining ricotta cheese and any leftover basil.
Recipe Notes

Serves 4-6 people

Please note this recipe was tested and developed using metric measurements all imperial measurements are approximate.

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6 Comments

  • Reply
    Joyce | Pups with Chopsticks
    September 21, 2017 at 5:17 pm

    Now that I’m older, I have a new love for eggplant 🙂 Loving the flavours of this pasta with the eggplant. Always refreshing to find new eggplant recipes to try out. I also had no idea that ricotta came salted! I will need to hunt for this!

  • Reply
    Mindy
    September 21, 2017 at 5:06 pm

    I’ve been wanting to make this forever! I’m definitely going to try your recipe! 🙂

  • Reply
    Jessica @ A Kitchen Addiction
    September 21, 2017 at 3:54 pm

    This looks amazing! Perfect for chilly fall evenings!

  • Reply
    Catherine
    September 21, 2017 at 3:17 pm

    Dear Emily, your photos are always so beautiful! This dish is no exception! It looks absolutely wonderful and delicious!

  • Leave a Reply

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