You are going to love this tasty aubergine pasta recipe.
Pasta Alla Norma is an Italian pasta recipe. A classic Sicilian pasta dish enjoyed by pasta lovers all over Italy.
Gently fry aubergine (eggplant) in olive oil before adding it to a homemade pasta sauce.
Add cooked pasta to the aubergine sauce, with a sprinkle of shaved Ricotta Salata cheese (or Parmigiano-Reggiano). With fresh basil leaves added to serve.
It can be served hot or as a cold pasta salad in the summer. You can also add chilli peppers if you like spicy.
Continue reading or jump to see the whole ingredients and instructions on the recipe card.
See our step by step slide show on how to make this aubergine pasta norma.
Why is 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.
When he tasted this aubergine pasta dish, he compared it with the perfection of the fantastic Italian opera Norma.
I will go through all the ingredients needed to make this aubergine pasta recipe, including suitable substitutions.
Aubergines and eggplants are the same things; they have different names in different countries.
The aubergine is the star of this pasta dish so choose ones that are fresh and in season.
They should be shiny and have a firm texture, without any blemishes. Avoid ones that are soft or have brown spots.
Try to choose aubergines with thinner skins or baby aubergines for the best results.
How to prepare aubergine?
Years ago, aubergines needed to be heavily salted and sat with a heavy weight to draw out moisture and bitterness.
However, aubergine (eggplant) varieties have been modified and no longer have bitterness in them.
Wash and dice into cubes, and add a teaspoon of salt before frying in a generous amount of olive oil.
Aubergines / Eggplants love to soak up olive oil, making them deliciously soft inside when sautéed.
Homemade Pasta Tomato Sauce
The ingredients in this homemade pasta sauce are tomatoes, garlic cloves, fresh chilli salt and pepper.
You can use fresh chopped cherry tomatoes or tinned tomatoes.
I like to use fresh tomatoes when they are in season. However, tinned chopped tomatoes work well.
For extra richness add tomato puree to the tomato pasta sauce.
Garlic & Chilli
Use fresh garlic minced or finely chopped for this pasta bake sauce.
You can use fresh chillies or chilli flakes.
I also love spice in this aubergine pasta dish; however, if you don't, omit it.
Allow the sauce to simmer and thicken whilst cooking the pasta. Add a splash of balsamic vinegar and mixed dried herbs for extra flavour.
Cook the pasta in boiling salted water, stirring occasionally. Follow cooking time to packet instructions or a little less if you like it al dente.
Add drained pasta into the aubergine and tomato sauce.
What pasta shape to use?
In a traditional Pasta Alla Norma tubed pasta shapes are used.
However, any pasta shape will work in this pasta dish.
I like to use rigatoni, penne pasta or fusilli. Check out the fantastic giant fusilli pasta in the pictures for this aubergine pasta bake.
In Italy, Ricotta Salata cheese finishes this cooked pasta dish.
Ricotta Salata is an Italian sheep's milk cheese.
It is firm and heavily pressed and salted. It can be grated or shaved over pasta and salad.
However, in the UK, it is not so readily available.
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.
Add plenty of fresh basil leaves cut into small pieces to serve. If using dried basil, use sparingly.
Should I cut or tear basil?
There is a considerable debate here. When served as a garnish, some believe fresh basil 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 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!
Aubergine Pasta Bake
You can turn this into an aubergine pasta bake. Transfer the cooked pasta and pasta sauce into an oven baking dish.
Add torn mozzarella on top, ready to be oven-baked for 10 minutes.
To keep this aubergine pasta vegan friendly, omit the cheese or use a vegan option.
Cold Pasta Salad
The first time I tried this dish in Italy, I had it cold, known as Pasta alla Norma Fredda. (Fredda translates to cold in Italian).
We enjoy it hot and cold, so we make it serve 6!
It makes dinner for the 4 of us. There is enough left to serve as a cold pasta salad for lunch the next day.
Add to a lunch box or a cold pasta salad sharing plate at family gatherings or BBQs.
This pasta dish is great served as a main course with our homemade dough balls on the side.
Whether vegetarian or vegan, this aubergine pasta alla norma recipe is perfect for the whole family!
📖 Step by Step Recipe
Aubergine Pasta (Pasta alla Norma)
- 2 Aubergine (Eggplant) diced
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 5 tablespoon Olive Oil
- 500 grams Fusilli Pasta or other pasta such as macaroni, spaghetti, penne.
- 2 tins Chopped Tomatoes
- 4 cloves Garlic finely chopped or pureed
- 1 Chilli finely chopped or minced
- Black Pepper to taste
- 60 grams Parmigiano-Reggiano or Ricotta Salata shaved to serve
- Basil fresh chopped to serve
- Cut the aubergine into cubes and sprinkle with salt.2 Aubergine (Eggplant), 1 teaspoon Salt
- Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the Aubergine, gently fry until soft and golden, about 8 minutes.5 tablespoon Olive Oil
- Add chopped tomatoes, garlic, chilli & black pepper with the aubergine. Turn to high heat.Once bubbling, turn the temperature down to low and simmer.2 tins Chopped Tomatoes, 4 cloves Garlic, 1 Chilli, Black Pepper
- Whilst the sauce simmers, cook the pasta to the instructions on the packet.500 grams Fusilli Pasta
- Drain the pasta. Stir into the thickened pasta sauce.
- Top with fresh basil and shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano or Ricotta Salata.Season to taste with salt and pepper.Serve warm or cold!!Basil, 60 grams Parmigiano-Reggiano or Ricotta Salata
This aubergine pasta recipe post was initially posted 15/06/2020 and was updated 04/05/2022 to include substitute ingredients, new images and an easy recipe card.
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