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Under 30 Minutes

Penne alla Norma

Legend has it that this recipe was created as a tribute to the opera "Norma"; composed by Vincenzo Bellini, who was from Sicily, where this dish originated.

  • Prep:
  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 6
  • Yield: Serves 4 to 6
Penne alla Norma

Source: Everyday Food, September 2003


  • 1 pound penne rigate
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 large eggplant, cut into 3/4-inch chunks
  • 1 1/2 pounds plum tomatoes, cored and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup torn fresh basil, plus more for garnish
  • 3/4 cup ricotta cheese


  1. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente, according to package instructions. Drain pasta; return to pot.

  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, and crushed red pepper; cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes.

  3. Add eggplant to skillet; season generously with salt and pepper. Cover, and cook until eggplant begins to release juices, about 5 minutes. Uncover; cook, stirring, until tender, 3 to 4 minutes (if bottom of pan browns too much, add a few tablespoons water, and scrape with spoon).

  4. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, and 1/4 cup water to skillet; cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes.

  5. Toss sauce and basil with pasta; gently reheat if necessary. Top each serving with a spoonful of ricotta, and garnish with more basil.

Cook's Note

Crushed red pepper adds spice to this dish. Vary the amount according to taste.

Reviews (15)

  • parkrngr17 8 Sep, 2013

    I really enjoyed this. I peeled the eggplant, as other reviews suggested. I doubled the tomato paste and water to make this a little more "saucy." Otherwise, I stuck to the recipe. The ricotta cheese added some good flavor, without it I would think this would be a bit bland. Yummy!

  • rae620 14 Oct, 2010

    I wanted a less moist ricotta on top, so I substituted Ricotta Salatta (pressed, salted

  • LoveBakingCookies 13 Oct, 2010

    Delicious! My husband doesn't like eggplant so I used portabella mushrooms instead. Easy, simple, definitely a keeper. Thanks.

  • janice bouchard 12 Oct, 2010

    And, don't even try to figure out how my comment is posted THREE times .. I'm not sure myself! First it wasn't there at all; then appeared in triplicate.

  • janice bouchard 12 Oct, 2010

    Quite tasty! But, I think it would have been better if the eggplant had been peeled. Other than that small change, it is a recipe worth making again!

  • janice bouchard 12 Oct, 2010

    Quite tasty! But, I feel it would have been better if the eggplant had been peeled. Other than that, I think the recipe is certainly worth making again!

  • janice bouchard 12 Oct, 2010

    Quite tasty! But, I feel it would have been better if the eggplant had been peeled. Other than that, I think the recipe is certainly worth making again!

  • mbs4174 9 Aug, 2010

    made this tonight. so good. even filled up my picky boyfriend who swears he doesn't like vegetarian food.

  • m1981b 12 Apr, 2010

    I made this tonight and it was delicious. However, I halved the entire recipe and doubled the amount of red pepper flakes since I like spicy food. I also added 8 oz. of ground beef when I cooked the onions and garlic, and it was fantastic and hearty. I also peeled my eggplant because I hate tough eggplant skin. I'll make this regularly.

  • caroldirner 10 Aug, 2008

    I also added medallions of mozzerella. This was a simple yet delicious pasta (even enjoyed by those who thought they didn't like eggplant).

  • aknannie 29 Apr, 2008

    I would not cook the garlic with the onion, but rather add with the eggplant before covering. This will help to keep the garlic from browning too be avoided at all cost. Resulting bitterness will permeate and ruin any dish.

  • manuelav 26 Apr, 2008

    In the real pasta alla norma, tomato sauce (only tomatoes, garlic, basil, salt and oil) and fried eggplant are cooked saparately. remember! never, I said never cook pasta before tomato sauce and eggplants are ready.
    Toss together pasta al dente, sauce, fried eggplants and fresh basil leaves; add ricotta salata ( that is different from classic ricotta cheese) and buon appetito!
    This pasta can be frozen and stored up to 1 month.

  • kupcakey 16 Apr, 2008

    I actually make something very similar to this but I use LOTS OF GARLIC and I also add shrimp sometimes!EXCELLENT!!!!!

  • ginarn1 15 Apr, 2008

    I am wondering if this dish will freeze well.

  • maryfran123 15 Apr, 2008

    We love eggplant and grow our own. This recipe will be great to try when the fresh eggplant are ready to eat. It is a lot like the eggplant parmigian that I make and my whole family enjoys it.

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