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Pasta alla Norma: A Classic of Sicilian Cuisine

Pasta alla Norma is a typical dish of traditional Sicilian cuisine, originating from the city of Catania. This recipe is easy and quick to prepare and embodies all the flavors and aromas of summer. Its traditional version features fried eggplant, tomato sauce, salted ricotta cheese, and basil.

Origins and Variations

Pasta alla Norma is considered one of the most beloved regional culinary specialties in Italy. Its origin is linked to the Catania-born playwright Nino Martoglio, who allegedly exclaimed “This is a true Norma!” when faced with a plate of pasta thus seasoned, comparing it to the masterpiece of the great composer Vincenzo Bellini. However, there are variations of the recipe that can differ in preparation and ingredients used. For example, some versions may use cheese or Parmesan instead of salted ricotta.


  • 340 g rigatoni pasta
  • 2 medium eggplants (approx. 400 g)
  • 250 g salted ricotta cheese
  • 2 costoluto tomatoes (approx. 400 g)
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 60 g fresh basil
  • 60 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste


  1. Eggplant Preparation
    • Clean and dry the eggplants.
    • Cut the eggplants into 1.3 cm thick slices.
    • Let the eggplant slices drain for at least 15 minutes to remove excess water.
    • Dry the eggplant slices with paper towels.
  2. Tomato Sauce Preparation
    • Wash and halve the tomatoes.
    • In a pan, sauté the minced garlic in olive oil.
    • Add the tomatoes and cook for 30 minutes over low heat, adding salt and pepper to taste.
    • Add the chopped fresh basil and mix.
  3. Eggplant Frying
    • In another pan, heat plenty of olive oil.
    • Fry the eggplant slices until they are golden and crispy.
    • Drain the fried eggplant on paper towels.
  4. Pasta Cooking
    • Cook the rigatoni pasta in salted water until al dente.
    • Drain the pasta and season with the tomato sauce.
  5. Plate Composition
    • Place the seasoned pasta on a plate.
    • Add the fried eggplant on top of the pasta.
    • Sprinkle the salted ricotta cheese over the plate.
    • Serve hot and steaming.

Presentation and Tips

Pasta alla Norma is a flavorful and colorful first course, with the flavors and aromas of Sicily. It’s essential to serve it hot and steaming, with the perfect cooking degree. This dish is perfect for everyday cooking, especially during periods when you want to maintain a light diet and consume more vegetables. Moreover, it’s a vegetarian first course that doesn’t contain meat or fish and can be suitable for all menus.


Pasta alla Norma is a classic of Sicilian cuisine that represents the synthesis of the island’s flavors and aromas. Its preparation is easy and quick, and can be personalized with variations and different ingredients. This dish is a must-try for those who want to discover authentic Sicilian cuisine and taste a genuine flavor of Italy.