Pasta alla Norma

Pasta alla Norma

The Spruce / Kristina Vanni & Eric Kleinberg

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 20 mins
Total: 40 mins
Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Yield: 1 large bowl pasta
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
244 Calories
10g Fat
29g Carbs
9g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 244
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 10g 13%
Saturated Fat 3g 17%
Cholesterol 14mg 5%
Sodium 509mg 22%
Total Carbohydrate 29g 11%
Dietary Fiber 3g 11%
Total Sugars 3g
Protein 9g
Vitamin C 8mg 42%
Calcium 134mg 10%
Iron 1mg 8%
Potassium 243mg 5%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Pasta alla Norma is an Italian dish made with fried eggplant and tomato sauce. It is a quintessential Sicilian pasta dish that was originally created in Catania, Sicily. The name is said to have originated with the Italian writer Nino Martoglio who, upon eating the pasta, declared that is was "the real Norma," meaning it was as exceptional and perfect as the Bellini opera Norma.

This dish is typically prepared with penne rigate pasta, tomatoes, eggplant, fresh basil, and ricotta salata cheese. Penne rigate is a great choice for this particular dish because the ribbed surface is perfect for chunky vegetable-based sauces such as this. Bits of flavor can nestle into those small ridges and infuse into each bite.

The key to a perfect pasta alla Norma is salting and draining the eggplant before adding it to the dish. This helps draw some of the water out of the eggplant and makes the final dish less bitter. It also helps the eggplant absorb less oil while frying. Serve the pasta with a simple salad as a filling main course.


  • 2 cups cubed eggplant

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic

  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

  • 2 cups canned Italian chopped tomatoes

  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

  • 1 pound penne rigate pasta

  • 1 cup grated ricotta salata or Parmesan cheese

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Pasta alla Norma ingredients

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni & Eric Kleinberg

  2. Place the cubed eggplant in a colander and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Toss to coat.

    Eggplant in a collander

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni & Eric Kleinberg

  3. Cover with a weighted plate and let drain for 15 minutes. Pat the eggplant cubes dry.

    Eggplant covered with a heavy plate

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni & Eric Kleinberg

  4. Bring a big pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the eggplant and cook for 2 minutes.

    Eggplant in a skillet with oil

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni & Eric Kleinberg

  5. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, oregano, remaining 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and the pepper.

    Cooked eggplant in a skillet with seasoning

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni & Eric Kleinberg

  6. Stir in the tomatoes and basil. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

    Tomato and basil added to the skillet

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni & Eric Kleinberg

  7. Cook the pasta in the boiling water according to package directions until al dente. Drain. Add to the pan with the sauce. Toss until well coated and cook for 2 minutes.

    Pasta added to eggplant and tomato mixture in skillet

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni & Eric Kleinberg

  8. Turn off the heat and top with the freshly grated cheese. Toss well. Garnish with additional fresh basil to serve.

    Pasta alla Norma in skillet topped iwth cheese

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni & Eric Kleinberg

How to Store

Any leftover pasta alla Norma can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Recipe Variations

  • If you have difficulty finding ricotta salata cheese, grated Parmesan cheese can also be used.
  • Gluten-free versions of penne rigate also work well in this dish.
  • For a quicker dish, toss the salted and sautéed eggplant with your favorite store-bought tomato basil pasta sauce.