Pasta alla norma recipe

(46 ratings)

Pasta alla norma is traditionally a Sicilian dish, made up of only a few ingredients and is a speedy nutritious meal that's on the table in no time

Close up plate of pasta alla norma topped with basil
(Image credit: Getty / Zoe Angelica / 500px)
  • Vegetarian
Preparation Time10 mins
Cooking Time20 mins
Total Time30 mins
Cost RangeCheap

Pasta alla norma is a traditional Sicilian dish, supposedly named after Bellini’s opera ‘norma’. 

It offers a great vegetarian recipe; simple and with only a few ingredients but full of authentic Italian flavour. Ricotta salata, a fantastic dry salted ricotta is traditionally used for its pungent crumbly texture, but feta would be a good substitute, as would parmesan as we’ve done. It’s a super speedy nutritious meal to have on the dinner table in no time. It's a great budget option as well - one of our best cheap family meals. Ready in just half an hour, it's a perfect veggie-packed weeknight meal.


  • 2 aubergines, cubed
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried chili flakes
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
  • Large bunch of fresh basil, torn
  • 2 cans chopped tomatoes
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 500g dried penne
  • Parmesan cheese, for garnishing




  1. First, fry the cubes of aubergines in batches in a hot pan adding oil as needed. Once all cooked, transfer to one pan and add garlic and cook for further 2mins. Sprinkle over oregano and chilli flakes. Add tomatoes and simmer for 10-15mins until thickened. Add half the torn basil leaves and take off heat. Set aside.
  2. Meanwhile cook spaghetti according to packet instructions and strain, reserving a cup full of the cooking water.
  3. Add spaghetti to pan of sauce and mix to coat well, adding the cooking water if needed to loosen. Serve in bowls with extra basil torn over the top and a grating of fresh parmesan.

Top tip for making pasta alla norma

If you want a smoother sauce, blitz up the tinned tomatoes in a blender before adding to sauce. Alternatively try using tinned passata.

Octavia Lillywhite
Food and Lifestyle Writer

Octavia Lillywhite is an award-winning food and lifestyle journalist with over 15 years of experience. With a passion for creating beautiful, tasty family meals that don’t use hundreds of ingredients or anything you have to source from obscure websites, she’s a champion of local and seasonal foods, using up leftovers and composting, which, she maintains, is probably the most important thing we all can do to protect the environment.