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Pasta alla Norma is an Italian pasta and eggplant dish with roots in the ancient port city of Catania, Sicily. My husband’s ancestors also have roots in Catania and it’s where we visited on a dream vacation a few years back.

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One day I’ll share more about our trip to Italy, one of the most marvelous adventures I’ve had the privilege to experience!

Nick’s grandfather immigrated from Sicily to Boston in the 1930s. We researched and discovered that the Zappalà family name is still prevalent in the Catania region of Sicily. We were fortunate to be invited to tour the Zappalà cheese factory outside of Catania and sample their outstanding products :) <3

Eggplant is the star ingredient in Pasta alla Norma, which can be pan fried or oven roasted – which is what I prefer. The oven method was much easier than pan frying and yielded a nice golden brown batch of eggplant.

For the sauce I make a simple Pasta Sauce that begins with sautéed onion and garlic. Then I give a can of San Marzano tomatoes a whirl in the blender and add those to the pan, along with dried seasonings (basil, oregano, parsley, and crushed red pepper flakes). Season with salt & pepper and simmer for 15 minutes.

Dried Fresh Herbs

Recipe note: Do you dry your own herbs? Oregano is one of my favorites to dry. Check out this easy method.

The result is a nice rich pasta sauce that comes together in under 30 minutes but taste like it’s been on the stove all day!

To build the Pasta alla Norma, the roasted eggplant is added to the pasta sauce. Then the al dente pasta is folded in along with 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking liquid, coating each piece in the silky sauce.

A generous sprinkling of pecorino Romano (or classically Ricotta Salata) and a handful of fresh basil finishes the dish.

Pasta alla Norma deserves its spot among the top classic Italian pasta dishes. The simplest of ingredients quickly come together to deliver a hearty vegetarian dish that even your meat lovers will savor.

Pasta alla Norma

Pasta alla Norma deserves its spot among the top classic Italian pasta dishes. The simplest of ingredients quickly come together to deliver a hearty vegetarian dish that even your meat lovers will savor.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4

Ingredients
  

For the eggplant

  • 2 pounds eggplant (about 2 medium) cut into 1" cubes
  • 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

For the sauce

  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 28 ounce can San Marzano tomatoes blended
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

To serve

  • 1 pound pasta (like rigatoni, penne or rotini) cooked al dente
  • 1/4 cup pasta cooking water
  • fresh basil leaves
  • pecorino Romano (classically Ricotta Salata) grated

Instructions
 

For the eggplant

  • Preheat oven to 450° F. Cut eggplant into 1" cubes. Toss with olive oil, salt & pepper and spread in a single layer on parchment lined baking sheet. Roast in oven for 15 minutes, then flip and roast another 10 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

For the sauce

  • While eggplant is roasting, heat olive oil In a large skillet over medium heat. Saute onion until translucent, add garlic and saute another minute. Pour in blended tomatoes, dried herbs, salt and pepper. Simmer for 15 minutes. Fold in roasted eggplant.

To serve

  • While sauce is cooking, boil pasta in salted water until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/4 cup pasta cooking water. Add pasta and 1/4 cup cooking liquid to pasta sauce. Toss pasta well to coat.
  • Divide eggplant pasta into bowls. Sprinkle with fresh basil and grated pecorino Romano cheese. Buon appetito!

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