A classic Sicilian dish, the pasta alla norma combines the textures of fried aubergine and mushy sauce to give you a flavorful feast topped with ricotta cheese!
One of the most-loved Sicilian dishes, the pasta all norma originated in the Etna side of Catania, Sicily. This vegetarian dish is traditionally made using macaroni pasta, fried eggplant, and marinara sauce, and is topped with fresh basil and ricotta salata cheese. It’s the perfect wholesome substitute for meaty dishes.
Some recipes also add wine to the sauce while cooking. There is also continued debate about whether the eggplant needs to be sliced or diced before frying, and the answer depends on the part of Sicily you’re from.
Why is it Called Pasta alla Norma?
Nino Martoglio(1870-1921), the famous Italina playwright, publisher and film director spent the latter half of his life in Catania, Sicily where he founded the Compagnia Drammatica del Teatro Mediterraneo.
Legend has it that one day Martoglio was presented with a well-seasoned version of the pasta. On tasting it he exclaimed “Chista è ‘na vera Norma!”which means “This is a real Norma!”
Norma was a Vincenzo Bellini opera that premiered at La Scala a century earlier. To show the absolute deliciousness of the dish, Martoglio had compared it to the magnificent opera, and in doing so established it as a local classic forever!
This tomato and aubergine Pasta Alla Norma recipe easy to make at home!
- 1 lbs rigatoni
- 1 1/2 large firm eggplants (about 2 lbs total)
- 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 4 large tomatoes
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Grana Padano cheese (optional)
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves, shredded
- 1 cup of ricotta cheese
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
- 2 tablespoons of salt
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- Slice the eggplant and sprinkle with salt. Leave it for 30 min to get rid of water from it.
- Then cut the sliced eggplant into very small cubes. Fry on the pan with a bit of oil until brown.
- Cut the tomatoes in cubes, then add them to the eggplants along with garlic.
- Cook it all for about 10-15 min until tomatoes turn into mushy sauce. Then add basil and pepper flakes and mix.
- Meanwhile, cook your pasta according to the instructions.
- Once the pasta is cooked, drain it and spead it on plates.
- At the last minute add the ricotta to the sauce alone with Grana Padano cheese (optional) and put it on top of your pasta. Enjoy!
Traditionally, Pasta alla Norma is served with rigatoni, but my favorite type of pasta for it is Bigoli.