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Spaghetti alla Norma: with Tomatoes and Eggplant,

User Rating 5 Star Rating (5 Reviews)


When I was quite little my father worked on an excavation in Sicily, and Spaghetti alla Norma, spaghetti with rich, sensual tomatoey eggplant sauce, is one of the earliest dishes I remember. The Norma in question is Vincenzo Bellini's heroine, and the dish certainly does her justice.

Prep Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes


  • 6 medium-sized eggplants, about a pound (500 g)
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • About a pound (500 g) sun-ripened plum tomatoes, blanched, peeled and chopped.
  • 6-8 basil leaves, shredded
  • 1 pound (450 g) spaghetti
  • 1/2 cup grated pecorino romano, salted ricotta, or Parmigiano
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Olive oil (or corn oil) for frying


Peel and slice the eggplant into half-inch (1 cm) slices, salt the slices, and let them sit in a colander for about an hour. Rinse them, pat them dry, and fry them a few pieces at a time in hot oil, turning them so both sides brown, and setting them to drain on absorbent paper.

Next, set water to boil, and while it's heating heat 1/4 cup oil in a pot, sauté the garlic briefly, and then stir in the blanched, peeled tomatoes. Season with salt and abundant pepper to taste. Reduce the heat to a simmer and continue cooking the sauce figuring 15-20 minutes in all; about 5 minutes before it's done add the shredded basil.

Keep an eye on the pasta pot while preparing the sauce, and as soon as the water boils salt it and cook the spaghetti.

When the spaghetti are al dente, drain them and season them with the tomato sauce. If you are bringing bowls of pasta to the table, divvy the spaghetti into four bowls and divide the eggplant slices among them. If you are instead serving a big bowl of pasta, season the pasta with the tomato sauce and them carefully mix the slices of eggplant into it. In either case, sprinkle the pasta with much of the cheese, and serve it with the remaining cheese on the side. This should serve six. The wine? A Ciró Rosato or Rosso would be nice.

Yield: 6 servings spaghetti alla Norma.

A variation:
I prefer whole slices of eggplant in pasta alla Norma. However, some people do things differently:
Slice the eggplant, salt the slices, and let them sit for an hour. Rinse them, pat them dry, and dice them.
Prepare the tomato sauce as above, and as it cooks fry the diced eggplant in olive oil in a skillet, adding a crushed peeled clove of garlic. When the diced eggplant is cooked, set it on absorbent paper to drain.
Stir the diced eggplant into the tomato sauce when you add the basil, and use the sauce to season the pasta.

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