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Pasta alla Norma – tomato and eggplant pasta recipe

5 January 2019 | Last Updated: 3 April 2019

Pasta alla Norma – tomato and eggplant pasta recipe

Italians know very well how to create a delicious and easy dish with just a few ingredients. Pasta alla Norma is a Sicilian pasta dish made with tomatoes, eggplant and a large amount of cheese. It‘s really tasty, aromatic and quick to prepare.

A few words about the ingredients.

Pasta – in Sicily, busiate pasta is most often used. In other countries, when it‘s not easy to get, penne or rigatoni are recommended. In fact, you can use many types of pasta, it all depends on how you‘ll cut the eggplant. If you‘re using penne it‘s best to cut the eggplant into big chunks, if spaghetti – into small cubes and in case of fusilli – into ‚fries‘, as in the recipe below. I used fusilli because I like it and I just had it in my pantry.

Eggplant – it’s the star of this dish, so make sure you buy really fresh eggplants. A good and fresh eggplant should have a shiny and smooth skin. A wrinkled and dull skin is a sign that the eggplant is old or was poorly stored, its skin will be most likely tough and chewy. In Sicily the eggplans for Pasta alla Norma are deep fried. I use a medium amount of oil – it’s supposed to be a recipe for a quick dinner, but it must be delicious too. Eggplant absorbs fat like a sponge, but unfortunately this is what makes it so delicious.

Tomatoes – out of the season use canned tomatos and in sommer – delicious and ripe fresh tomatoes.

Cheese – for the pasta alla Norma a firm variety of ricotta is being used – a ricotta salata. It‘s not easy to get (you can usually find it in a well-stocked Italian deli or in the internet). I live in Vienna so it wasn‘t so hard for me to buy it. Ricotta salata‘s taste was a little bit surprising for me. It‘s a firm cheese so its flavor is intense but at the same time mild, delicate and fresh. Alternatively, you can use parmesan or pecorino cheese. I love Pecorino, but I don‘t recommend it here. On the other hand, Parmesan is a great alternative, but I must admit that the ricotta salata is the best option here. Its fresh and milky taste perfectly cuts through the eggplants fattiness. In spite of that, I won‘t look for it next time so intensely, as this dish also tastes great with parmesan cheese.

The history of pasta Pasta Norma is as rich as the taste of this dish. Most probably it was named after the Vincenzo Bellini‘s Opera, called ‚Norma‘. The Italian writer Nino Martoglio after tasting this dish in the city of Catania, Sicily, had supposedly shouted ‘it’s a Norma’, comparing it to the famous opera.

My other quick pasta recipes:

Pasta alla Norma - tomato and eggplant pasta recipe
Pasta alla Norma - tomato and eggplant pasta recipe

Pasta alla Norma – tomato and eggplant pasta recipe

Pasta alla Norma recipe. It‘s a Sicilian pasta dish made with tomatoes, fried eggplant and a large amount of cheese. It‘s delicious, aromatic and quick to prepare.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 2 servings
Calories 1702kcal
Author Aleksandra


for the pasta:

  • 180 g / 6.3 oz pasta fusilli or penne
  • 1 large eggplant / aubergine 320g / 11.3 oz, or 2 very small eggplants
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil for frying not extra virgin, or other frying oil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3 tablespoons dry white wine 45 ml
  • 1 can tomatoes 400 ml / 14 oz
  • 3 large fresh basil leaves or ½ teaspoon dried basil
  • 4 heaped tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese or ricotta salata firm ricotta
  • salt and pepper to taste

to serve:

  • grated parmesan or ricotta salata
  • fresh basil leaves


  • Cook the pasta al dente (it should have a bite to it).
  • Cut the eggplant into 1 cm / ½ inch slices, then into 1 cm / ½ inch ‘fries’. You can cook it right away or better, if you have time, sprinkle with a teaspoon of salt, wait 10-15 minutes, then dry thoroughly with paper towels. The salt extracts water from the eggplant, so it‘s easier and quicker to fry and less oil can be used.
  • Heat the oil on a large frying pan, spread the eggplant evenly, cook over high heat, without stirring, for about 3 minutes, then cook for 4 more minutes, stirring from time to time, until the eggplant is browned and tender. Transfer to a plate.
  • Reduce the heat under the pan, add the finely chopped garlic and dried oregano (and dried basil, if you‘re not using fresh leaves), cook for 30-60 seconds, stirring, then add butter, cook until melted.
  • Add the wine, stir until almost completely evaporated.
  • Add the canned tomatoes, break them up into smaller pieces with a spatula, cook over low heat for about 5 minutes, adding basil leaves at the end. Scrape all browned bits from the bottom of the pan with a spatula.
  • Blend the sauce until smooth, season with salt and pepper to taste (you can use a hand/immersion mixer to do this, but I would transfer the sauce into a high-rimmed bowl first, as it tends to splash when blended directly on the pan).
  • Add the cooked pasta, grated cheese and fried eggplant to the pan, mix together, season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Serve sprinkled with basil leaves and grated cheese.
  • Enjoy!


If you want to deep fry the eggplant: heat frying oil in a high rim frying pan/medium pot. The ideal oil temperature is about 180°C / 356°F. It must be well heated, so that the eggplant doesn‘t absorb much oil, but also not too hot – the fries will brown too quickly and won‘t be soft in the middle. Fry in batches, until the eggplant is nicely browned and soft. Do not throw all eggplant fries at once, the temperature of the oil will drop too much. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels.


Calories: 1702kcal
Course dinner
Cuisine Italian
Keyword basil, eggplant, parmesan, pasta, ricotta salata, tomato

Pasta alla Norma – step by step:

Did you make this recipe? Let mi know how you liked it in the comments below!

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  • Reply
    12 May 2019 at 08:06

    I never tried pasta with eggplant. What can I use instead of wine?

    • Reply
      12 May 2019 at 09:46

      Hi! Instead of wine, I would add maybe 1-2 tsp balsamic vinegar or white wine vinegar to the tomato sauce (at the end of cooking time). Add a little brown sugar if it’s too sour. You can also omit the wine or vinegar completely, it’s optional. Let me know how you liked it : )

      • Reply
        13 May 2019 at 08:20

        Thanks dear for your suggestion.

        • Reply
          13 May 2019 at 11:59

          You’re welcome!

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