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Eggplant and Tomato Pasta Sauce – Healthy Pasta Alla Norma Recipe

The pasta alla norma is a jewel of Sicilian cuisine. The delicious eggplant and tomato pasta sauce is made quickly and tastes incredibly delicious. And with my easier version, I’ll show you how to make this delicious pasta in a healthy and balanced way. So let’s dive right into the Sicilian cuisine and discover the secret behind a really flavorful tomato sauce!

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easy pasta alla norma recipe

The Sicilian Cuisine

The island of Sicily and its capital Palermo have an incredible amount to offer. Beautiful landscapes, an exciting history and above all an incredibly good cuisine. On my first vacation in Sicily I instantly felt in love with the Sicilian cuisine. That much, that we had to fly there again two year later to feast like in the land of milk and honey.

Palermo in particular is known worldwide for its incredible street food. Everywhere in the city there are markets and streets where street food booths line up and you don’t even know which of those delicious things you would like to try first. And in addition to incredibly good pizzas and paninis, there are many dishes that you can find only in Sicily. Very popular, for example, are the arancinos. These are small filled and deep-fried rice balls. And also Panelle, Pani ca Meusa, Brioch con Gelato or Cannoli can be found on every street corner of Palermo.

But even beyond street food, the Sicilian cuisine has an incredible amount of treasures to offer. One of my absolute favorite dishes is pasta con le sarde. These are bucatini pasta in a white wine sauce with anchovies, sardines, fennel and raisins. But caponata, a kind of vegetable dish made with tomatoes and eggplant, and involtini are also native to Sicily. And, of course, the pasta alle norma.

easy pasta alla norma recipe

Pasta alla norma – Sicilian pasta with eggplant in tomato sauce

I tried the Pasta alla Norma for the first time during our last vacation in Sicily. And actually it was more of a coincidence. If I hadn’t been struggling with stomach problems, I probably would have opted for a dish with fish or seafood. After all, tomato sauce with eggplant doesn’t sound very exciting at all. But still, the pasta alla norma was the culinary highlight of my vacation. And as always, when a dish at a restaurant impresses me, I have to try to recreate my own version of it. But before I get into how to make it, I want to tell you what I was able to learn about the original recipe.

pasta alla norma - Sicilian eggplant and tomato pasta sauce
the pasta alla norma I have eaten in Sicily

For the Sicilian pasta alla Norma you need only a few ingredients. First, the Italians pan-fry the eggplant in a generous amount of oil. Then it’s mixed with a tomato sauce, which I think is mostly tomato paste, and has a slightly sweet note. Finally it’ s served with rigatoni pasta and ricotta hard cheese. In fact, I didn’t even know there was a hard cheese version of ricotta until then. But when the cream cheese is baked in the oven it creates a hard cheese that reminds me a bit of pecorino visually, but isn’t quite as tangy.

Sicilian Eggplant and Tomato Pasta Sauce – My Pasta Alla Norma Version

So as soon as I was back home, I totally had to make this pasta myself. And since I thought my version was at least as good as the one I ate in Palermo, I don’t want to deprive you of this recipe. Of course, I made it a bit healthier and more balanced, making it a true JBR recipe.

The first thing to do for this recipe is to cut the eggplant into small cubes. Then put those cubes directly into a large colander and mix them with about a tablespoon of salt. The salt has the effect of removing the bitter substances from the eggplant. Therefore, leave them like this for about twenty minutes. After that, you can rinse them thoroughly with water to remove the salt again.

eggplant cubes in a colander

Instead of pan frying the eggplant I like to sauté it with a teaspoon of oil. The amount of oil is quite enough, so you don’t really notice the difference. While the eggplant cubes are frying for five minutes on high heat, you can start boiling the water for the pasta. You can also chop the shallots, garlic and tomatoes. Next, add the diced onion and garlic to the eggplant and sauté for one minute until translucent. Then add the tomatoes. After two minutes, turn down the heat and add the tomato paste, the sugar (it’s essential for flavor) and the strained tomatoes. And while the pasta cooks al dente, the tomato sauce simmers slowly over low heat.

For extra proteins, you’re welcome to add some prawns to sauce for the last few minutes. But of course this step is totally optional. Finally, mix the pasta into the sauce and then serve with some ricotta cream cheese and fresh basil on top.

Healthy and Well-Balanced

To turn the classic pasta alla norma, into a healthy dish, I had to change just a few little things. Instead of pan-frying the eggplant, I sautéed it with a small amount of olive oil. Furthermore, I used whole wheat rigatoni instead of regular rigatoni. I also like to add a protein source to the recipe like the shrimps. But instead of King Prawns, you can also use some grilled chicken or tofu.

Last but not least, I served the pasta with the ricotta cream cheese that we are familiar with. Since I have not yet discovered the baked ricotta here, the cream cheese is a good alternative. However, you can also use pecorino or parmesan cheese instead.

easy pasta alla norma recipe

I hope you like this simple and healthy pasta alla norma recipe and that you give it a try soon.

If you have any further questions or suggestions, feel free to drop them in the comments, or send me a massage via email at contact@julesbalancedrecipes.com or Instagram (@julesbalancedrecipes).

And in case, you’ve tried this easy eggplant and tomato sauce, I’d appreciate your comment and rating. It’s easy to do via the comments section below this post and it would mean the world to me.

Have fun trying it out and bon appétit,
Jules

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easy pasta alla norma recipe

Pasta alla Norma

Julia Schmitt
A delicious Sicilian tomato sauce with eggplant served with rigatoni and ricotta cheese. This simple pasta is quick and easy to prepare, healthy, provides well-balanced macro nutrients and brings the pleasure of the Sicilian cuisine to you!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 40 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 55 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 2 servings
Calories 466 kcal

Equipment

  • 1 pot
  • 1 non-stick sauté pan
  • 1 colander

Ingredients
  

  • 1 eggplant
  • salt
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 120 g whole wheat pasta (~3,4 oz) e.g. Rigatoni
  • 2 shallots
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 300 g cherry tomatoes (~ 10,5 oz)
  • ½ tsp coconut blossom sugar alternatively brown sugar
  • 25 g tomato paste (~ 1 heaped tbsp)
  • 200 g strained tomatoes (~ 7 oz)

Optional

  • 200 g king prawns (~ 7 oz) ready to cook (deveined, peeled and thawed)

    alternatively chicken, tofu or another protein source of choice

To Serve

  • 40 g ricotta cream cheese (~2 tbsp) alternatively (cooked) ricotta hard cheese, pecorino or parmesan cheese

Instructions
 

Eggplant

  • Cut the eggplant into cubes of about 1cm, put them in a colander and mix them with plenty of salt (at least ont to two teaspoons). Put them aside for 20 to 30 minutes in order to remove the bitterness from the eggplant. Then rinse the eggplant thoroughly with water and pat dry.
    eggplant cubes in a colander

Eggplant Tomato Sauce

  • Heat up the pan and add one teaspoon of the olive oil. Sauté the eggplant over mediu-high heat for 5 minutes, tossing occasionally.
    pan fried eggplant
  • Meanwhile, bring the water for the pasta to a boil and then cook the pasta al dente according to the package instructions.
    cooked rigatoni pasta
  • At the same time, peel and finely dice the shallots and garlic cloves. Then wash the tomatoes and halve or quarter them, depending on their size.
    halved cherry tomatoes, finely diced shalotts and garlic
  • Once the eggplant is soft and slightly roasted, add the remaining oil, shallots and garlic to the pan and sauté for one or two minutes until translucent.
    sautéed eggplant, shalotts and garlic cubes
  • Then add the tomatoes and sauté for another two to three minutes. Next, add the tomato paste, coconut blossom sugar and give everything a nice toss.
    fried tomatoes and eggplant with tomato paste
  • Reduce the heat to low and add the strained tomatoes, give it a gentle toss. Now let the sauce simmer on low heat until the pasta is ready, but at least for five minutes.
    (If you like, add the king prawns to the sauce for the last 2 to 3 minutes.)
    eggplant tomato sauce

Serve

  • Add the pasta to the sauce, stir well, season with a little more salt if needed, and then divide between two plates. Serve with the ricotta cheese and basil.
    easy pasta alla norma recipe

Notes

nutritional values per serving (including the king prawns):
  • calories: 466 kcal
  • fat: 10 g
  • carbohydrates: 58 g
  • protein: 32 g

Nutrition

Calories: 466kcal
Keyword eggplant tomato sauce, pasta alla norma recipe, Sicily, tomato sauce
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