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Pasta alla Norma - A Family Feast

Pasta alla Norma

Pasta alla Norma combines hearty pasta with roasted chunks of eggplant in a homemade tomato sauce with grated cheese and fresh basil on top for serving.

Yield: Serves 6
Prep: 1 hourCook: 30 minutesTotal: 1 hour 30 minutes


2 pounds small Italian eggplant (23 small Italian eggplants)

Kosher salt, for salting the eggplant before cooking

1 pound fresh tomatoes (Roma preferred, but any garden tomato will work)

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided

1 1/2 cups yellow onion, diced

2 tablespoons fresh garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (more or less per your preference)

1 1/2 teaspoon dry oregano

2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 28-ounce can whole canned tomatoes (we use Cento)

1/2 cup water

12 ounces large firm dry pasta such as rigatoni, penne, or ziti

1/2 cup fresh basil plus more chopped for serving

Ricotta Salata, grated (or Pecorino Romano or Parmesan if you can’t find Ricotta Salata)


  1. Cut the stem end from the eggplant. Slice some of the skin off from two sides then cut three of four thick long slices. Place on a rack over a sheet pan covered in parchment and generously salt the tops. This will remove bitterness from the eggplant. After 30 minutes flip, salt again and wait another 30 minutes.
  2. While the eggplant sits, prepare the fresh tomatoes. Place a strainer over a bowl. Cut core from tomato and cut in half. (Roma cut the long way, other tomatoes cut horizontally.) Reach in and pull out the seeds over the strainer. Once all tomatoes have been seeded, cut the tomatoes into pieces and place in the bowl with the juice from the seeds. Use the back of a spoon to press the seeds and pulp through the strainer. Discard the seeds and set the tomatoes and liquid aside.
  3. Preheat the oven to 435 degrees F.
  4. Rinse off the salt from the eggplant and pat dry with paper towels then cut the slices into strips, then into large two-inch sized chunks and place on a sheet pan covered in parchment. Coat with half the olive oil, one teaspoon of the salt and roast for 25 minutes, flipping the pieces over halfway through cooking. Set the pan aside.
  5. While the eggplant sits during the first salting to remove bitterness, start the sauce. In a large brasier or skillet over medium high heat, pour in the second half of the olive oil and once hot add the onions and cook for three minutes.
  6. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, oregano, remaining teaspoon of salt, and black pepper and cook for one minute.
  7. Add the cut-up tomatoes and juice from earlier along with the can of whole tomatoes. Use the back of a large fork and press the big tomato pieces right in the pan to break them up. Place the half cup of water into the tomato can and slosh it around and then into the pan.
  8. Lower to a simmer and cook uncovered for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  9. While the sauce simmers, cook the pasta per box directions.
  10. Once the pasta is cooked, use a spider to pull the pasta out and add to the sauce. If the sauce is too thick, thin down with a little pasta water.
  11. Gently stir in the cooked eggplant.
  12. Tear the fresh basil into pieces and stir it into the sauce and pasta and serve.
  13. Over each serving, drizzle on a little extra virgin olive oil, grated cheese and chopped fresh basil.

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© Author: A Family Feast
Cuisine: Italian Method: simmer, roast