Local specialties, Pasta

Pasta alla Norma, the authentic recipe

Pasta alla Norma ready to be eaten

Pasta alla Norma is one of the most typical pasta from Sicily and combines tomatoes, aubergines, salty ricotta cheese and basil in a triumph of flavors.

You will be surprised to see that Norma is in capital letter, yes, that’s not a mistake. Pasta alla Norma is named after one of most famous operas by Vincenzo Bellini, who lived in Catania, Sicily, in the first part of 1800s. Legend says that, after trying for the first time this pasta, an actor commented, in local dialect “this is a true Norma!” to express his appreciation.

Pasta alla Norma is not a light recipe, and there’s nothing bad about it! So, please don’t cook the aubergine in the oven: it’s important that you fry it, in good EVO oil.

The other crucial ingredient, that maybe can be difficult to find abroad, is the salty ricotta cheese. I made some homework for you, and the best I could find online is this one:

But now, time to learn how to prepare your first authentic pasta alla Norma! Follow my step-by-step instructions and your guests will be impressed… 100% guaranteed!

And if you want to be sure to find it next time you want to cook it, now you can pin it!

Pasta alla Norma

Pasta alla Norma is without any doubt the most famous traditional pasta recipe from Sicily. Find the right ingredients, follow my instructions, and surprise your guests with this authentic Sicilian jewel. Buon appetito!
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time1 hr 10 mins
Total Time1 hr 40 mins
Course: Primo
Cuisine: Italian, Sicilian
Keyword: Aubergines, Basil, Eggplants, pasta, Ricotta cheese, Sicily, Summer recipe
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 650kcal
Author: Roberto
Cost: 1.5$

Equipment

  • 1 pot
  • 1 pan
  • 1 knife
  • 1 vegetable mill
  • 1 wooden spoon
  • paper to absorb the oil
  • 1 grater

Ingredients

  • 400 gr pasta rigatoni is my favorite choice
  • 1 eggplant (aubergine) the most authentic is the variety from Vittoria, in Sicily
  • 150 gr salty ricotta cheese better if from sheep's milk
  • 1500 gr fresh tomatoes
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • q.s. basil according to taste
  • q.s. salt for the pasta water and to prepare the aubergine
  • q.s. EVO oil to fry the aubergine

Instructions

  • Start your pasta alla Norma preparing the tomato sauce. Cut your fresh tomatoes in halves and put them in a pot, with a pinch of salt, 3 cloves of garlic and some basil leaves. Cook at very low heat for about 30 minutes.
    Sauce for pasta alla Norma - first step
  • Filter the tomatoes using a vegetable mill, then cook again the resulting sauce, adding one more garlic clove and some fresh basil. After 45 minutes your sauce will be ready for the recipe's next steps.
    Sauce for pasta alla Norma - first step
  • Now, time for the Queen of the recipe, the aubergine! (This is from my kitchen-garden, very proud of it!) Cut it into thick (about half inch) slices and then into 4 pieces.
    Pasta alla Norma - the aubergine
  • It is not a real pasta alla Norma if the aubergine is not fried! Fry the slices in hot olive oil, then make them dry using some paper towel.
    Pasta alla Norma - fried aubergines
  • In the meanwhile, cook "al dente" your pasta and drain it into a large pan with the tomato sauce prepared before and a spoon of the EVO oil used to fry the aubergine.
    Pasta alla Norma - in the pan
  • Add the fried aubergine slices in the pan and mix with the wooden spoon. You can now serve the pasta into your plates, ready for the final touch…
    Pasta alla Norma - add the aubergine
  • … one of the most delicious cheeses ever, a good salty ricotta!
    Pasta alla Norma - salty ricotta cheese
  • Add a basil leaf to garnish (here it's allowed, since the flavor is already part of the recipe) and your first authentic pasta alla Norma is ready!
    Pasta alla Norma ready to be eaten

This pasta can be the main of your meal, since it is a well balanced recipe, including fats, proteins and of course carbo. After that, my suggestion is to end the meal sipping a wonderful homemade limoncello, like you would do in Sicily. If you haven’t yet, try my limoncello recipe here, and you won’t regret!

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Buon appetito!

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