Roasted aubergine pasta or eggplant 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.
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 aubergine pasta or Pasta alla norma is another such dish that I could 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 of the dish, I have skipped the cheese.
If you are not vegan, you can add cheese too. Vegans may also use vegan cheese if they want.
What goes in aubergine pasta?
To make aubergine pasta, you will need the ingredients shown below:
- Pasta: Traditionally macaroni is used to make this dish 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.
- Onion: I have used red onion, you can use white or yellow onion too.
- Marinara sauce: Both homemade and store-bought marinara sauce are fine to be used. You can use any tomato-based pasta sauce of your choice in this recipe.
- Fresh herbs: I prefer adding fresh basil and parsley to aubergine pasta. Feel free to use fresh herbs of your choice.
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 its 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 their 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 (step-by-step instructions)?
Making aubergine pasta is very easy and involves just 4 main steps:
- Roast the eggplant
- Prepare the sauce
- Boil pasta
- Mix everything
The step-by-step instructions are given below:
Step 1: Cut eggplant into pieces slightly bigger than bite-size pieces.
Step 2: Put eggplant cubes, salt, ground black pepper, garlic powder, and olive oil into a bowl. Toss.
Step 3: Spread the eggplant cubes in a single layer on a baking tray, lined with a baking sheet.
Step 4: Bake in a preheated oven at 220°C (around 425°F) for around 25 minutes or until the eggplant cubes turn golden brown and are nicely cooked. Keep the baked eggplant cubes aside.
Step 5: Heat oil in a cooking pot.
Step 6: Add chopped garlic and saute for a few seconds.
Step 7: Add chopped onion.
Step 8: Cook until the onion turns translucent.
Step 9: Add marinara sauce.
Step 10: Rinse the sauce jar with water and add to the pot.
Step 11: Add Italian seasoning and chili flakes. Mix. If adding salt, add it at this stage. Add extra salt carefully as the sauce has salt too.
Step 12: Let the sauce simmer for 2 minutes.
Steps 13 and 14: Add baked eggplant cubes to the sauce. Mix.
Step 15: Cook pasta al dente.
Step 16: Add cooked pasta to the cooking pot.
Step 17: Gently mix until the sauce evenly coats all the pasta strands.
Step 18: Garnish with chopped fresh basil, parsley, or any fresh herb of your choice.
Your delicious roasted aubergine pasta is ready to be enjoyed!
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 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 the tray in the freezer for 4-5 hours. After that put the frozen eggplant cubes in an airtight container or zip-lock bag and put them back 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 pieces into a size slightly bigger than you want them to be in the final dish as they 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.
Frequently asked questions
Some people peel the eggplants before roasting or frying them to use in pasta alla norma. I don't like the texture of peeled eggplants and feel that they turn very mushy easily. If you don't mind that, you can peel the eggplants.
Yes, you can use any type of pasta which you like. I love spaghetti so I have used that.
Yes, you can. Just make sure not to overcook them. Also to saute them use oil enough to make sure that the pieces don't stick to the pan as then they will break and lose their shape.
More easy vegan or vegetarian pasta recipes
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:
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- Cooking pot
Ingredients for roasted eggplant
- 2 medium-sized globe eggplants
- 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
- Wash eggplant and cut it into around 1-inch big cubes.
- 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 ¼ 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 cubes into a size slightly bigger than what you want them in the final dish as they will shrink on baking.
- Don't overcook the eggplant cubes else they will turn mushy.
- Cook the pasta al dente.
- Use pasta water to adjust the consistency of pasta sauce, if it's too thick.
- More recipe tips and tricks are shared in the post above, please follow them to make this recipe.