Go Back

Pasta Alla Norma

An authentic Sicilian eggplant pasta dish like nonna makes. This is so hearty and satisfying, you wouldn't know its a meatless recipe.

Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword Easy Dinner, Eggplant, Italian Comfort Food, Pasta, Pasta Alla Norma, Sicilian, Vegetarian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Servings 4
Author The Tiny Fairy


  • 1 lb penne or rigatoni pasta substitute with pasta of your choice
  • 2 medium size eggplants, seeded, peeled and cubed remove the core seeds to reduce bitterness
  • olive oil as needed
  • kosher salt and pepper to taste prefer Diamond brand kosher salt
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1 Tablespoons garlic, finely minced (about 2 large cloves)
  • ⅛-¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, plus more for topping to taste
  • 1 28-ounce can San Marzano organic peel tomatoes
  • ½ cup basil, torn, plus more for garnishing
  • ½ cup mozzarella, cubed into bitesize pieces
  • ricotta salata for grating substitute with Pecorino Romano or Parmesan


  1. Fill a pot with cold water and bring to a boil for the pasta. Cook pasta according to package instructions or desired doneness.


  1. Trim both ends of the eggplant and peel the skin from top to bottom in an alternating stripe pattern with a knife or vegetable peeler. Cut the eggplant lengthwise into 1/2 inch thick slices, remove the seedy center as needed, and cube the eggplant.

  2. To maximize the flavor and texture, you will pan frying the eggplant in batches, without overcrowding. Add a generous amount of olive oil to a wide skillet and heat the oil over medium to high heat. When the oil is hot, add the eggplant cubes. They should sizzle. Season with kosher salt and pepper and cook until the eggplant is golden brown and tender. Remove to a plate and repeat batch frying until all the cubes have been fried. Set aside.


  1. Pour the whole peeled tomatoes in its juice in a Pyrex mixing bowl. Crush each tomato with your hands, removing hard pieces like the core. Set aside.

  2. In the same skillet you fried the eggplant, coat the bottom with olive oil and sauté the diced onion until translucent and edges begin to brown. Add the mashed garlic and red pepper flakes. Sauté for a minute until they release their fragrance. Add the crushed tomatoes, a few pieces of torn basil and a small pinch of salt. Simmer over medium to low heat.

    Note: If not using San Marzano tomatoes, you may need to add a little sugar to counterbalance the acidity.


  1. When the pasta has five minutes cooking time left, add the eggplant cubes and torn basil leaves to the tomato sauce and warm through over medium to low heat.

  2. With a kitchen spider, drain the pasta and add directly to the tomato & eggplant sauce. Turn the heat off.

  3. Add the cubed mozzarella pieces and fold with a spatula. The heat from the sauce and pasta will begin to soften the mozzarella cubes. Grate ricotta salata, Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese. Fold to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning, but note each component has been salted and the cheeses are salty.

  4. Transfer to a serving platter and serve with extra cheese, red pepper flakes and torn basil leaves. Buon appetito!

Recipe Notes

Note:  If roasting the eggplant, generously coat in olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Roast in a 400°F oven and roast for about 30 minutes, tossing every 10 minutes to ensure even cooking.