This Roasted Eggplant Pasta is such a simple showstopper! Pasta Alla Norma is creamy, hearty, and totally vegetarian with chewy al dente pasta, homemade tomato sauce, and perfectly crispy baked eggplant.
This simple pasta recipe is one of my favorite ways to use eggplants! If you’re like me, and you always have an eggplant sitting on your counter that you’re not sure what to do with, try my baba ganoush dip recipe (it’s the best EVER!), or make this traditional Italian pasta dish.
Pasta alla norma is a dish that originated in Sicily, Italy. It’s a light and filling vegetarian pasta with just 3 parts: penne pasta, tomato sauce, and eggplant! It’s a traditional Sicilian recipe your friends and family will absolutely love.
I love that this vegetarian pasta has a super “meaty” sauce without a shred of meat! I also use a vegetarian Parmesan cheese instead of ricotta salata which is a traditional ingredient in pasta alla norma because parmesan is easier to find in my grocery store.
Why You’ll Love this Recipe
- It’s truly delicious with a balance of amazing textures and sweet flavors.
- Celebrate fresh eggplant with this beautifully roasted recipe.
- Perfect for meal prep! I love whipping up a double batch, divide into containers and enjoy it for a few days!
- Customize this pasta dish with more veggies, a heartier sauce, or your favorite pasta.
Here’s what you’ll need to make eggplant pasta:
- Eggplant: Cut your eggplants into evenly sized cubes for the best baked eggplant. I think roasting the eggplant in the oven delivers a superior final product versus frying eggplant.
- Pasta: You can use any shape of pasta you love! I used penne for this recipe. Low carb, gluten free, or other pasta types are welcome here! Steer clear from super small pasta shapes though.
- Tomato sauce: Use a can of tomato sauce or Italian passata as the base for this delicious pasta sauce. Don’t worry, we’ll dress it up! You can also use crushed tomatoes for a chunkier sauce.
- Spices: I add a mix of oregano, basil, crushed red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, onion, and garlic to my tomato sauce.
Always taste your tomato sauce as you cook it, if it’s too acidic, just stir in a teaspoon of granulated sugar and that usually does the trick!
Complete list of ingredients and amounts can be found in the recipe card below.
How to Make Eggplant Pasta
Follow these steps for the best pasta alla norma recipe:
- Bake eggplant. First, toss the cubed eggplant with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread them out on a baking sheet, and roast for half an hour, Brown them under the broiler for a few minutes until they’re golden and crispy.
- Cook the pasta. Then, boil the pasta according to the directions. You want a perfectly al dente pasta.
- Sauté onions. To make the sauce, sauté the diced onions in olive oil until they’re soft and translucent.
- Sauté garlic. When the onions are almost cooked, add the garlic. Keep stirring to keep it from burning!
- Add tomato sauce. Now, pour the tomato sauce into the pot. Fill the can halfway with water, and add it, too.
- Season and simmer. Finally, add the oregano, basil, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Stir it all up and simmer until it thickens. Cover it with a lid to reduce splatter.
- Add pasta and eggplant. When the pasta is done, strain it and add it to the sauce. Gently stir in the baked eggplant, too.
- Garnish and serve. Garnish with freshly chopped basil or parsley leaves and grated Parmesan cheese.
Tips and Tricks
Pasta alla norma probably sounds complicated, but as you can see it’s so simple to make! Here’s some tricks I’ve learned along the way:
- Soak your eggplant. If you think eggplant is a little too bitter, here’s what to do: Once it’s cubed you can either liberally salt it and let it sit for an hour then lightly rinse off some of the salt. Or let the cubed eggplant sit in a bowl of milk for about half an hour before cooking. It also helps it make it extra creamy!
- Add more veggies. I kept this pasta recipe simple with just noodles, sauce, and eggplant, If you want a heartier dish, add more vegetables like carrots, mushrooms, peas, or zucchini to the mix.
- Freeze your sauce. I use this tomato sauce recipe for most of my pasta dishes! I’ve always got a frozen batch for quick weeknight dinners. Save time by using leftover tomato sauce!
- Keep it al dente. I always cook my penne pasta to a perfect al dente. The pasta will keep cooking slightly in the warm sauce, so be sure not to overcook your noodles!
Frequently Asked Questions
I love baked eggplant because it doesn’t get soggy like fried eggplant! For the best baked eggplant, toss it in oil, salt, and pepper, and bake for about half an hour until the eggplant is golden brown. I also broil my eggplant for about 5 minutes after baking for that extra browned look.
Pasta alla norma simply means a pasta dish with a tomato sauce and eggplant. Its odd name doesn’t come from the Italian translation for eggplant, like I guessed. It was created when an Italian writer explained “This is a real ‘Norma’!” comparing it to the opera of the same name. It stuck forever, and here we are now!
Peeling an eggplant is all about personal preference! The skin is completely edible, and I don’t usually peel mine. However, the bigger the eggplant, the tougher the skin.
What to Serve with Eggplant Pasta
How to Store
You can keep pasta alla norma leftovers for up to 4 days before the eggplant begins to turn into mush. If you’ve got tons of extras, you can freeze it, too! Pasta dishes are great to freeze because they thaw and reheat well.
Simply microwave in small spurts to reheat, or warm the pasta on low heat, stirring occasionally, until it’s hot again.
This is such an easy dinner recipe that feels so decadent! You’ll never use jarred tomato sauce again once you taste this simple sauce recipe. Make sure to Pin this recipe so more people can enjoy it too!
- 1-2 eggplants cut into 1 inch cubes (around 1 ½ pounds, 680g total weight)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 10 ounces (280g) dried pasta any shape
- Parmesan cheese for serving, I use vegetarian parmesan
- Fresh parsley chopped, for garnish (or basil)
For the sauce:
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion finely diced (about ½ cup)
- 2 cloves garlic finely minced
- 15 ounce (400g) can tomato sauce or Italian passata
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon dried basil
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C.
- In a large bowl, toss the eggplant cubes with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread them on a half sheet sheet pan, and roast for 30 minutes flipping halfway through. Then brown under the broiler for 5 minutes. The eggplant cubes should be golden and crispy when they’re done.
- Meanwhile, cook the pasta in salted water to al dente (According to the package instructions).
- In a skillet, heat olive oil and sauté the onion until it’s soft and translucent (3 minutes).
- Add the garlic, and cook for 30 seconds.
- Add the tomato sauce, then fill half of the empty can with water and add that to the sauce.
- Season with oregano, basil, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Stir everything together, then allow the sauce to simmer for 5-7 minutes or until it thickens a little. It will splatter so it’s better to cover with a lid.
- Strain the cooked pasta from the cooking water, and add it to the sauce, and gently stir in the roasted eggplant.
- Serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese and chopped parsley.
- Cook pasta until just al dente to avoid getting mushy pasta.
- If the tomato sauce is acidic, add a teaspoon of granulated sugar.
- Store the leftovers in the fridge in a sealed container for up to 4 days.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.
© Little Sunny Kitchen