Pasta alla Norma is an Italian pasta recipe. Perfect, easy midweek meal for the family. Aubergine/eggplant, softly fried in olive oil before adding to a homemade pasta sauce of tinned chopped tomatoes, garlic, chilli & black pepper.
Pasta stirred through the sauce, allowing the spirals to soak up the sauce perfectly! Finally, a sprinkle of shaved Ricotta Salata (or Parmigiano-Reggiano) and fresh torn basil added to serve.
Why’s it called Pasta alla Norma?
Pasta alla Norma is a popular Italian pasta dish, originating from Sicily.
The name of the dish came from an Italian Writer Nino Martoglio who tasted this dish and compared it with the perfection of the amazing Italian opera Norma.
What pasta shape to use for Pasta alla Norma?
Traditionally macaroni pasta would be used. However, we chose to use this giant fusilli pasta instead, to be honest, any pasta shape will work, we have used spaghetti, rigatoni and penne before with equally great results.
How to prepare Aubergine / Eggplant for frying?
There is a lot of advice saying to salt aubergine and put a heavyweight on it for up to an hour, to draw out bitterness? This may have been the case years ago….. however, Aubergine / Eggplants varieties have been modified and no longer have the bitterness in them.
Simply, wash and dice into cubes, add a teaspoon of salt before frying in a generous amount of olive oil, we used 5 tbsp of Olive Oil! Aubergines / Eggplants love to soak it up, which makes them deliciously soft when sauteed.
Making a homemade pasta sauce
Add chopped tomatoes, minced garlic and chilli. We use Gia Garlic Puree and Gia Chilli Puree (you can pick them up from Sainsbury’s) to keep with the authentic Italian flavours, great products highly recommended!
Of course, you can use fresh minced garlic and finely chopped chillies ( or skip the chilli if not a fan).
Whilst the pasta cooks, allow the sauce to simmer and thicken. Once pasta is ready drain and stir through the aubergine & tomato sauce.
What cheese should I use for Pasta Alla Norma?
Traditionally for Pasta alla Norma you would use ricotta salata cheese however in the UK it is not so easily available.
Ricotta Salata is an Italian sheep’s milk cheese. It is a firm and heavily pressed and salted. A great cheese to grate or shave over pasta and salad.
Substitute for ricotta salata cheese?
If you can’t source ricotta salata for this recipe, try using Parmigiano-Reggiano, Parmesan cheese. It has a similar texture and gives a great Italian flavour.
Should I cut or tear basil?
There is a big debate here, people believe Basil when served as a garnish should always be torn not cut, so as not to bruise the basil. On the other hand, others believe the bruising of the basil releases the flavour.
I personally use kitchen scissors to cut my fresh herbs as, I find it doesn’t bruise as much as a knife, is this the right way? I don’t know but it always works for me!
Pasta alla Norma cold or warm?
The first time I tried this dish I had it cold, known as Pasta alla Norma Fredda. (Fredda translates to cold in Italian) We enjoy it hot or cold which is why we make it serve 6!
It makes 2 dinners for us (2 adults and 2 children)! We have it the first day with garlic bread or dough balls, as seen below.
Then the next day we have it cold served with an Italian salad! Also great for lunch box or a pasta salad sharing plate at family gatherings / BBQ’s
Pasta alla Norma
- 2 Aubergine (Eggplant) diced
- 1 tsp Salt
- 5 tbsp Olive Oil
- 500 grams Giganti Fusilli pasta or other pasta such as macaroni, spaghetti, penne.
- 2 tins Chopped tomatoes
- 2 tsp Gia Garlic Puree or 4 garlic cloves minced
- 1 tsp Gia Chilli Puree or 1 chilli minced/diced
- Black Pepper to taste
- 60 grams Parmigiano-Reggiano or Ricotta Salata shaved to serve
- Basil fresh chopped to serve
- Cut aubergine / eggplant into cubes, sprinkle with salt.
- Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat, add the Aubergine / Eggplant, fry until soft, and golden, about 8 minutes.
- Add Chopped Tomatoes, Garlic, Chilli & Pepper in with with the aubergine on high heat, once bubbling, turn temperture down to simmer.
- Whilst the sauce simmers, cook the pasta to instructions on the packet. (about 8 minutes)
- Drain the pasta. Stir into the sauce.
- Top with fresh basil and shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano or Ricotta Salata
- Serve warm or cold.
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