Roasted eggplant pasta or Aubergine pasta also known as Pasta alla norma is a very tasty Sicilian pasta dish. The combination of roasted eggplant, pasta, and a simple tomato sauce is very comforting and filling.
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To be honest, before coming to Dubai around 6 years ago I had never imagined that eggplant in pizza and pasta can taste so good. In fact, the Mediterranean pizza with chunks of eggplant and feta which I tried for the first time in Dubai has now become my favorite Pizza.
The recipe which I am sharing today- Roasted eggplant pasta or Pasta alla norma is another such dish which I could have never have imagined to taste so good until a few years back.
However, from the time I tasted it, it has become one of my favorite pasta dishes.
I would highly recommend trying this recipe at least once even if the combination sounds weird to you. Trust me, it's a very satisfying and delicious pasta dish.
What is Pasta alla norma?
Pasta alla norma, more commonly known as eggplant pasta or aubergine pasta is a Sicilian dish made with pasta and eggplant tossed in a delicious tomato based sauce.
The original pasta alla norma is made with macaroni and fried eggplants. But, now people make it with different types of pasta. Also, since people have become more calorie conscious, fried eggplant got replaced by roasted eggplant.
Aubergine pasta is also garnished with ricotta or parmesan cheese however since I have made a vegan version I have skipped the cheese. If you are not a vegan, you can add cheese. Vegans may also use vegan cheese if they want.
What goes in roasted eggplant pasta?
To make Eggplant pasta, the following ingredients will be needed:
- Pasta: Traditionally macaroni is used but you can use whichever pasta you prefer. My favorite is spaghetti so I have used that.
- Eggplant: For pasta alla norma use Italian or globe eggplant.
- Marinara sauce: Both homemade and jarred sauce are fine. You can use any tomato-based pasta sauce of your choice in this sauce.
- Mixed Italian herbs
- Chili flakes
- Garlic powder
- Water to cook pasta
- Olive oil
- Fresh herbs of your choice. I prefer to add basil and parsley in aubergine pasta.
How to cut eggplant for pasta?
I have seen people cutting the eggplant in different ways to use in this recipe. The most common way is cutting bite-size cubes of eggplant which is also my preferred way. However, people also use slices or strips of eggplant. You can use whichever way you prefer. Just keep in mind that the eggplant pieces will slightly shrink after baking so keep the pieces slightly bigger than what you want in the final dish.
Some people even peel or half peel the eggplant to use in aubergine pasta. Personally, I don't like the texture of peeled eggplant in pasta as it becomes very mushy and also loses it's shape.
How to roast eggplant?
To roast the eggplant cut it into medium-sized pieces. Toss with some olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. You can also add more seasonings of your choice.
Spread the eggplant cubes in a single layer on the baking tray lined with parchment paper. Bake at 220°C (around 425°F) for around 25 minutes or until the eggplant cubes turn golden brown and are nicely cooked without losing the shape.
Also, as I have already mentioned above, traditionally fried eggplant is used in Pasta alla norma. So, if you don't mind some extra calories you can also shallow or deep fry the eggplant cubes to use in eggplant pasta.
How to make?
Making aubergine pasta is very easy and involves just 4 main steps:
- Roast the eggplant
- Prepare the sauce
- Boil pasta
- Mix everything
The full details of every steps is given in the recipe card below.
Step by step photo instructions
How to serve?
Roasted eggplant pasta is a very filling dish with almost every component in it so you don't really need anything on the side.
However, if you want you can serve some fresh salad or garlic bread on the side.
To store aubergine pasta allow it to reach room temperature and then put it in an air-tight container. It will be fine in the fridge for around 3 days.
How to freeze?
If you want to freeze roasted aubergine pasta, freeze all the three components -cooked pasta, sauce, and roasted eggplant cubes separately.
Sauce and pasta can be frozen in airtight freezer-safe containers or zip lock bags. However, to freeze the roasted eggplant cubes, let them reach room temperature then spread the cubes in a single layer on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Put in the freezer for 4-5 hours. After that put the frozen eggplant cubes in an air tight container or zip lock bag and put in the freezer.
By following this way you can freeze the dish for 3-4 months.
Recipe tips and tricks
- Cut equal size pieces of eggplant for even cooking,
- Cut the eggplant in a slightly bigger size than you want it to be in the final dish as it will shrink in size after roasting.
- Don't overcook the eggplant otherwise, it will lose shape and turn mushy spoiling the whole dish.
- Cook pasta al dente.
- Instead of plain water, use pasta water to adjust the consistency of the sauce if it's too thick.
More easy pasta recipes (vegan/ vegetarian)
If you are also a pasta lover and looking for more easy vegan/ vegetarian pasta recipes then don't miss to check the following links:
- Mushroom pasta Bolognese (vegan)
- Cherry tomato pasta with spinach and mushrooms (vegan)
- Pasta salad (vegan)
- Easy cream cheese pasta (vegetarian)
- Baked pasta (vegetarian)
- Greek spaghetti (vegetarian)
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Roasted eggplant pasta
- Cooking pot
Ingredients for roasted eggplant
- 2 medium-sized globe eggplants cut into 1 inch cubes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper adjust as per taste
- Salt to taste
- 400 grams pasta use any pasta of your choice
- 1 medium-sized onion finely chopped
- 3 large garlic cloves finely chopped
- ¼ cup finely chopped basil leaves/ parsley both can be used too
- 600 grams marinara sauce
- ¼ cup water or as required to get the desired consistency of the sauce
- 1 teaspoon mixed Italian seasoning adjust as per taste
- ½ teaspoon red chili flakes adjust as per taste
- Salt to taste only if your sauce is not salty enough
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Put the eggplant cubes, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and olive oil in a bowl. Mix everything. Spread the cubes on a baking tray lined with a baking sheet. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 220°C (around 425°F) for around 25 minutes or until the eggplant cubes turn golden brown and are nicely cooked.
- Heat oil in a pot. Add garlic and saute for a few seconds.
- Add onion and saute until it turns translucent.
- Add marinara sauce to the pot. Put around 1/4 cup of water into the sauce jar, put on the lid and shake. Pour this water into the pot.
- Add Italian seasoning and chili flakes. If required add salt too. Let the sauce simmer for around 2 minutes.
- While the sauce is getting ready, cook the pasta al dente.
- Add the roasted eggplant to the sauce and mix.
- Finally, add cooked pasta to the sauce and mix everything nicely.
- Garnish with chopped fresh herbs and enjoy.
- Make sure to cut the eggplant into equal size cubes so that they get evenly baked.
- Cut the eggplant in a size slightly bigger than what you want in the final dish as it will shrink on baking.
- Don't overcook the eggplant or they will turn mushy.
- Cook the pasta al dente.
- Use pasta water to adjust the consistency of pasta sauce, if it's too thick.