Pasta with Eggplant Sauce or Pasta alla Norma is a great way to use sauteed eggplant in tomato sauce on top of your favorite pasta. Translated in Italian this dish is also known as Pasta con le Melanzane a Sicilian dish.
Al dente pasta tossed with juicy sauteed or roasted eggplants in a tomato sauce make this dish one you'll never forget! A great option for a vegetarian dish. Heck, you could even make this a vegan eggplant dish by excluding the cheese.
- What to Serve Pasta alla Norma With
- Here's Why You'll Love this Dish
- Ingredients You'll Need
- How to Make Pasta alla Norma
- Meal Prep Tips
- Possible Ingredient Substitutions
- Variations of Pasta with Eggplant Sauce
- Answers to Commonly Asked Questions
- Other Main Dishes You'll Want to Try
- Recipe Details
- PIN it for later here
- Food Safety
Pasta alla Norma is a great recipe to make in the summer time when you have an abundance of fresh vegetables like eggplant.
Whether you have an abundance of eggplant in your garden or not, you can easily source them at your local market to use in this recipe for pasta with eggplant.
For zucchini, try this recipe for zucchini fritters made with zucchini, parmesan cheese and egg. They are really delicious that the pickiest eater won't realize they are eating their veggies.
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What to Serve Pasta alla Norma With
Here's Why You'll Love this Dish
Pasta alla Norma is not only a great way to add veggies to your diet, but you'll love this dish for the following reasons:
- Easy to Make - a simple recipe with minimal ingredients makes this recipe easy to make
- Cost Effective - using ingredients that are inexpensive and readily available
- Family Friendly - a dish that tastes so good that your family won't mind eating it with the added bonus of getting your veggie servings for the meal
- Comfort Food - starchy rigatoni pasta, need we say more. Pasta and marinara sauce is one of the all time favorite comfort foods.
Ingredients You'll Need
You will need the following ingredients to make pasta with eggplant sauce: tomato puree, eggplant, garlic, rigatoni pasta, parmesan cheese, ricotta salata, basil, olive oil, and spices.
Rigatoni pasta is the traditional pasta used to make pasta alla norma, although you can use the pasta of your preference.
Parmesan cheese tops this pasta dish to bring a nice salty bite.
Ricotta Salata is traditionally served a top this pasta dish for an added savory touch, not to be confused with fresh ricotta cheese.
Spices like oregano, basil and red pepper flakes are traditionally used in this pasta with eggplant dish and enhance the flavor of the dish.
See recipe card for full list of ingredients and quantities.
How to Make Pasta alla Norma
Heat up the olive oil and saute the garlic until fragrant. Add the tomato puree and let come to a boil. Add oregano and stir. If sauce tastes tart, add ½ teaspoon of sugar.
Turn down heat and let simmer for about 20 to 30 minutes. Set aside. (add salt if needed).
Preheat oven to 350℉
Peel and slice the eggplant thinly. Arrange the eggplant on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Brush with olive oil and season with salt. Roast in oven for 10 minutes, then flip over to the other side.
Remove from oven, let cool. Slice in quarters and add the eggplant to sauce. Mix.
Heat up the sauce and eggplant to a gentle simmer.
Boil pasta as per manufacturer's instructions and remove from water when al dente.
Use a spider spoon to scoop the pasta from the boiling water and place it in the pan with the tomato sauce and eggplant.
Add chili flakes and stir to combine all ingredients.
Serve in a bowl, top with a spoonful of ricotta and sprinkle chopped basil, ground pepper and parmesan over the pasta.
Meal Prep Tips
Sometimes tomato puree or canned tomatoes have added salt. Try not to season your sauce with salt and pepper until the end of the cooking process.
In some cases, it may be difficult to acquire the perfect tasting marinara sauce. If your sauce tastes acidic or tart, try adding a little bit of sugar during the cooking process. All you need is ½ to 1 teaspoon of sugar to achieve a perfect tasting sauce.
Possible Ingredient Substitutions
You can substitute ingredients as follows:
- Eggplant: If you want to avoid or replace eggplant, you can use zucchini or bell peppers as a substitute. Both of these vegetables can be sautéed or roasted to add a similar texture and flavor to the dish.
- Cheese: Instead of ricotta salata, you can use feta cheese, grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese. These cheeses have a similar salty and nutty flavor that complements the dish well.
- Pasta: While the traditional choice is short pasta like rigatoni or penne, you can use spaghetti or any pasta shape you prefer.
- Herbs: If you don't have fresh basil, you can substitute it with dried basil or other fresh herbs like parsley.
- Tomato Sauce: For a quicker option, you can use canned tomato sauce instead of making a fresh sauce from scratch. Just make sure to choose a high-quality brand.
- Red Pepper Flakes - use olive oil infused with hot peppers instead of dry chili flakes.
The perfect recipe isn't that far away. I'd love to know how you substituted ingredients to fit your dietary needs. Drop a comment below and let me know!
Variations of Pasta with Eggplant Sauce
Here are other variations of the classic eggplant alla norma:
- Tone Down Spice: pass on the heat and use sweet red peppers
- Meat: If you prefer a meaty version, you can add cooked crumbled sausage or ground beef to the sauce for added flavor and protein.
- Sauce: skip the sauce or change it up by substituting tomato sauce with alla panna sauce, basil pesto sauce or any sauce you like.
If you can think of any other way to make this pasta alla norma dish unique, go for it!
You will need a pan that is deep enough to hold all of your pasta and sauce. It's best that the pan has a lid, so that the sauce doesn't splatter all over the place when cooking.
Store leftovers refrigerated in an airtight container for a maximum of 4 days. You can also freeze for later. When you craving some homemade veal lasagna, thaw it out in the fridge for 24 hours and then warm it up in the microwave, oven or on the stove top. Yum!
Another option for warming up pasta is to fry it up in a frypan like my mom used to do. It will come out crispy and delish!
Answers to Commonly Asked Questions
Ricotta is a fresh, mild and lightly salted cheese whereas ricotta salata is aged, firmer and contains more sodium than it's fresh counterpart. Ricotta salata is generally made with sheep's milk ricotta as opposed to cow's milk like fresh ricotta.
The best substitute for ricotta salata is feta cheese.
Pasta alla Norma was named in honor of Catania Vincenzo Bellini who was the composer of the opera called Norma. When writer Nino Martoglio tasted this dish he attested that it was a masterpiece like the opera "Norma", when he exclaimed "This is the real Norma". Hence the name Pasta alla Norma.
Other Main Dishes You'll Want to Try
Looking for other recipes like this? Try these:
Pasta with Eggplant Sauce
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 clove garlic
- 700 ml tomato puree
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 2 lb eggplants peeled and sliced thinly
- 500 g rigatoni
- ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
- 250 g ricotta salata
- 3 basil leaves chopped
- Heat up the olive oil and saute the garlic until fragrant. Add the tomato puree and let come to a boil. Add oregano and stir. If sauce tastes tart, add ½ teaspoon of sugar.
- Turn down heat and let simmer for about 20 to 30 minutes. Set aside. (add salt if needed).
Roasting the Eggplant
- Preheat oven to 350℉
- Peel and slice the eggplant thinly. Arrange the eggplant on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Brush with olive oil and season with salt. Roast in oven for 10 minutes, then flip over to the other side. Remove from oven when golden (about 20 minutes).
- Remove from oven, let cool. Slice in quarters and add the eggplant to sauce. Mix.
- Heat up the sauce and eggplant to a gentle simmer.
- Boil pasta as per manufacturer's instructions and remove from water when al dente.
- Use a spider spoon to scoop the pasta from the boiling water and place it in the pan with the tomato sauce and eggplant.
- Add chili flakes and stir to combine all ingredients.
- Serve in a bowl, top with a spoonful of ricotta and sprinkle chopped basil, ground pepper and parmesan over the pasta.
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Note that the storage guidelines provided on this page and site are estimates from personal experiences. We are all adults and as an adult you are responsible to ensure that the food you eat is safe to eat. Since, I'm not a food safety expert, you are responsible to review your local guidelines on food storage prior to storing any food left-overs.
- Not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw meat
- Wash hands after touching raw meat
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Use oils with high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove