Pasta alla Norma

The combination of pasta and eggplant is exclusively associated with southern Italy and principally Sicily, a combination I have been using for years.

I love eggplant and I love pasta so this is a normal pairing that makes perfect sense to me. There are numerous versions of pasta alla norma, which I just assumed was named after someone’s zia (aunt).

According to legend, the dish originated in Catania, birthplace of the composer, Bellini, whose popular opera Norma was so well received that a dish was created to honor the event.

Actually, the word norma (small “n”), taken from the Sicilian dialect, means custom or rule, so with no disrespect to Bellini or anyone’s Zia Norma, pasta alla norma is really “pasta in the customary way,” which is exactly how Sicilians have been traditionally enjoying this dish for generations.


  • 1 eggplant, unpeeled
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • 1 cup tomato sauce (marinara)
  • 1/2 pound penne pasta
  • 1/2 cup ricotta salata (plus extra for garnish)
  1. Wash eggplant, cut into sticks about the size of the penne.
  2. In a large saute pan, heat oil, fry eggplant until golden brown on all sides (do not over crowd, cook in batches if necessary). Eggplant should be almost crispy not limp. Remove with slotted spoon, set aside.
  3. In a large pot, bring water to a rapid boil, add salt, then add the pasta (Cooking Pasta the Italian Way).
  4. When pasta is al dente, drain, return to the pot it was cooked in and stir in tomato sauce and the ricotta salata.
  5. To serve, place pasta in bowls, top with eggplant, sprinkle with the extra cheese.

Tags: , , , , ,

Want to know when we publish?

Check Twitter or subscribe to our RSS feed!


  1. Spaghetti-Stuffed Eggplant | Sicilian Girl - September 20, 2017

    […] and eggplant are often enjoyed together, whether it’s the classic Pasta alla Norma, an eggplant and spaghetti pie or simply a plate of buccatini to accompany Melanzane alla […]

Leave a Reply