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Pasta alla Norma

hearty vegetarian eggplant dish from Sicily
Prep Time 1 hr
Cook Time 15 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4 servings


  • 1 medium globe eggplant - large diced
  • 3 cloves garlic - sliced
  • ½ medium onion - diced
  • 1 28-oz. can whole tomatoes - broken into chunks
  • ½ pound uncooked small pasta such as shells, rigatoni, fusilli, penne, etc.
  • 1 cup fresh ricotta
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • salt
  • ¼ cup dry red wine - optional


Prep the Eggplant

  • Leaving the skin on, wash and cut the eggplant into large dice pieces about 1 inch. Place in a colander on top of a bowl. Add 1 Tbsp. salt to the eggplant and mix with your hands to coat the eggplant pieces with salt. Set aside for 30 minutes to one hour. The salt will allow the eggplant to release its moisture and remove any bitterness. It usually takes at least 30 minutes for the eggplant to release a fair amount of its liquid. You can then give the pieces a gentle squeeze to remove even more moisture. This step is important as it gives the eggplant a nice meaty texture when cooked.
  • Next, place the eggplant pieces on a baking sheet and coat with 1 Tbsp. olive oil. Roast at 400° F for 15 minutes until eggplant is soft but not mushy. Set aside.

Make Tomato Sauce

  • Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, heat 3 Tbsp. olive oil and add onion and garlic. Saute for about 5 minutes until the onion begins to brown. Add red wine (if using) and simmer to reduce for 1 -2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, turn down the heat to a gentle simmer, partially cover, and let simmer for about 1 hour. Stir occasionally. If the sauce is sticking to the pan or getting too thick, add some water, 1 Tbsp. at a time.

Constructing the Dish

  • Take the eggplant out of the oven and add directly to the tomato sauce. Cook the pasta as per package directions. Drain (do not rinse) the pasta, keeping 1 cup of pasta cooking water just in case. Pour the drained pasta directly into the tomato/eggplant sauce and stir well to coat the pasta. Add a ladleful of pasta water to help the pasta adhere to the sauce.
  • Serve immediately with a healthy dollop of ricotta cheese on top.


Keyword eggplant, Sicily, vegetables, veggie