You don’t need meat to prepare a delicious and mouthwatering serving of pasta. If you don’t believe me, then you haven’t tried the traditional Pasta alla Norma — a popular pasta dish from Sicily that combines eggplant and tomato sauce. Simply delicious!
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This authentic Italian dish is perfect when you’re craving pasta, but you don’t want it to be too heavy — Sicilian eggplant pasta is what you need.
Deliciously filling in every serving, pasta alla norma will surely become a regular in your home too!
IF YOU WANT MORE AUTHENTIC ITALIAN RECIPES, THEN YOU WILL LIKE THESE POSTS!
- Vegetable oil – you will use this for frying the eggplants, so use oil that can stand up to high heat, like canola or sunflower oil.
- Olive oil – you would be using this for the sauce, so use extra virgin olive oil, if possible.
- Eggplants – no need to use salt to remove some of its moisture. Just rinse them, then chop them into chunks (or cubes).
- Garlic – chopped finely or minced.
- Crushed tomatoes – I usually use canned crushed tomatoes when preparing this eggplant pasta dish.
- Basil – fresh basil leaves.
- Pasta – as you can see from the image above, I use penne for this recipe.
- Salt and pepper – for seasoning the sauce.
- Ricotta salata – a Sicilian cheese that locals use to serve pasta alla norma.
Start by heating the vegetable oil on a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
Once the oil is extremely hot, add the chopped eggplants carefully (photo 1).
Adjust the heat to medium and mix the eggplants occasionally to brown them on all sides.
Remove the fried eggplants from the pan and place them on kitchen paper to drain excess oil (photo 2).
Start preparing the pasta by boiling salted water on a pan and cooking it as per package instructions.
Place a medium to large skillet on medium-high heat and pour the olive oil.
Once the olive oil is ready, adjust the heat to medium and add the garlic (photo 3).
Cook until the garlic becomes fragrant.
Add the crushed tomatoes, salt and pepper, and fresh basil leaves (photo 4).
Mix, cover with a lid, then bring to a quick boil.
Adjust the heat to medium-low and let the sauce simmer for about six to eight minutes.
Add the chunks of fried eggplant (photo 5).
Mix, and combine evenly.
Add the cooked pasta and mix, making sure that the pasta is coated with the sauce (photo 6).
Transfer your Sicilian eggplant pasta into plates and serve with freshly grated ricotta salata on top.
- Depending on the size of the chopped eggplants, it will take you twelve to fifteen minutes to fry them over medium heat.
- Fry them in batches. For reference, it takes me two rounds to fry one medium-sized eggplant.
- When the sauce is too watery, let it simmer longer to remove some of the liquid.
- Make sure you season the sauce properly; remember that the eggplants were not seasoned.
- Different pasta. You can use any type of pasta you want, but I find that round, tubular types are excellent for making this eggplant pasta recipe.
- Dried basil. A good alternative to fresh basil leaves.
- Peperoncino. While NOT traditional, I find that adding just a dash of peperoncino in the sauce gives this fried eggplant pasta a hint of heat.
Yes. You can certainly fry the eggplants earlier or even the day before.
Just place them in the refrigerator during the night, and you can add them directly to the sauce once it’s simmering.
You do, however, need to cook it a few minutes longer in the sauce to make sure that it’s combined before adding the cooked pasta into the pan.
Looks absolutely tempting, right? So, give this traditional Sicilian eggplant pasta a try one of these nights — you will not regret it!
Note: This post was initially published in February 2017. New images, more details, and changes to the recipe have been added to stick to the traditional way of preparing the dish.
Traditional Pasta alla Norma Recipe (Sicilian Eggplant Pasta)
- 2 medium eggplants, chopped into chunks
- 1 to 1 & 1/2 cups vegetable oil, for frying
- 7 ounces pasta (about 200 grams)
- 2 & 1/2 tbsp olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 & 1/2 cups crushed tomatoes
- handful of fresh basil
- salt and pepper, to season
- ricotta salata, grated, for serving
Prepare eggplant and pasta:
- Place a medium-sized saucepan over medium-high heat and add the vegetable oil.
- Once the oil is extremely hot, add the chopped eggplants carefully.
- Adjust the heat to medium and cook the eggplants evenly.
- Remove the fried eggplants from the pan and place them on kitchen paper to drain excess oil.
- Set aside.
- Prepare your preferred pasta by boiling salted water on a pan and cooking it as per package instructions.
Prepare pasta alla norma sauce:
- Place a medium to large skillet on medium-high heat and pour the olive oil.
- When the olive oil is ready, adjust the heat to medium and add the garlic.
- Cook until the garlic becomes fragrant.
- Add the crushed tomatoes, salt, pepper, and fresh basil leaves.
- Mix, cover with a lid, then bring to a quick boil.
- Adjust the heat to medium-low and let the sauce simmer for about six to eight minutes.
- Add the chunks of fried eggplant.
- Mix, and combine evenly.
- Add the cooked pasta and mix, making sure that the pasta is coated with the sauce.
- Transfer your pasta alla norma into plates and serve with grated ricotta salata.
- Cook’s Tip #1: It generally takes twelve to fifteen minutes to fry the eggplants over medium heat — it all depends on how big you chopped the eggplants.
- Cook’s Tip #2: Do not fry all the eggplant at once unless using a large pan.Do it in batches instead. For reference, it takes me two rounds to fry one medium-sized eggplant.
- Cook’s Tip #3: Let the sauce simmer for a longer time when you think it’s too watery.
- Cook’s Tip #4: Do not forget to season the sauce properly; remember that the eggplants were not seasoned.