The last few days have been exceptionally sunny and it’s making me hopeful for spring! I love winter, but I can’t wait to stop layering and not need to have my puffy coat. In an effort to remind me even more of warmer days, I made ziti alla norma because eggplants remind me of summer.

This pasta was everything I was looking for: simple, hearty, and delicious. The softly seared eggplant is golden and creamy with a mild meltyness that addictively coats your tongue. The tanginess of the tomato sauce and the almost meaty eggplant come together to make a quick satisfying vegetarian dinner. Nothing’s more comforting than a bowl of pasta in a silky, well balanced tart, yet sweet tomato sauce. It’s a dish everyone loves, even eggplant haters!

But, maybe you’re wondering what exactly ziti alla norma is?

What is Ziti alla Norma?
Ziti alla Norma is a classic Sicilian pasta dish made with sautéed eggplant and tomato sauce. It’s usually finished with ricotta salata – a pressed, salted, aged version of the ricotta you know and love. It’s not so common so you can do as I did and finish with parmesan, but apparently a lot of Italian people say that alla norma with out ricotta salata is not alla norma at all. Like lots of Italian dishes, it’s supposed to be simple but perfectly executed.

A traditional Sicilian pasta dish made with sautéed eggplant and tomatoes. Meat free, super delicious, and easy! |

On Eggplants
Lots of people like to salt their eggplant first to remove excess moisture and bitterness, but I think it’s better to just go ahead and choose an eggplant that doesn’t have a lot of seeds (which is what contributes to the moisture and bitterness). I tend to like to use Japanese eggplants – the long variety that the emoji is based on, but of course you can use globe eggplants too. Just be careful when you’re choosing your globe eggplant. Look at the bottom of the eggplant – you want one that has a round belly button, not a line.

Ziti alla norma reminds me of long summer nights hanging out at an Italian vineyard with friends, watching the sun go down with the pleasant buzz of lightning bugs in the distance. Boards of cured Italian meats, bowls of olives, and of course platter after platter of pasta alla norma. Summertime perfection. Of course really, I just ate this while in my PJs while watching Netflix, but a girl can dream, am I right?

A traditional Sicilian pasta dish made with sautéed eggplant and tomatoes. Meat free, super delicious, and easy! |

A traditional Sicilian pasta dish made with sautéed eggplant and tomatoes. Meat free, super delicious, and easy! |

Ziti alla Norma

Ziti tossed with sautéed eggplants and tomato sauce
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes


  • 1 eggplant cut into pieces similarly sized to the ziti
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 14 ounce can of diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 8 ounces ziti or other short pasta
  • ricotta salata or parmesan to serve
  • fresh basil to serve


  • Heat up 2-3 tablespoons of oil over medium high heat. When hot and shimmery, cook the eggplant in batches, until golden brown and very soft. Remove from the oil and set aside.
  • Add the garlic and cook until slightly soft. Add the tomatoes and oregano and bring to a gentle simmer.
  • Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Reserve a 1/2 cup of pasta water and drain.
  • Add the eggplant and the pasta into the tomatoes and toss until coated and glossy. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
    A traditional Sicilian pasta dish made with sautéed eggplant and tomatoes. Meat free, super delicious, and easy! |
  • Serve with basil and cheese. Enjoy immediately.


  1. Nathan says:

    The sauteed eggplant is the perfect addition to this amazing dish. Thanks for the recipe!

  2. Catherine Tipton says:

    I have tried eggplant parmesan & eggplant lasagna but this is simple & tastes great ! Ty

    1. Stephanie says:

      hope you get a chance to try it!

  3. Mike McPhee says:

    I dry roast my chopped eggplant in the oven for about 25-30 at minutes at 220 C while cooking the rest of the sauce. It gives a better texture and flavour I find.

    1. Monique says:

      5 stars
      I do the same thing….I feel it’s healthier and the eggplant just turns out amazing this way :)

  4. Christine says:

    What should I be doing with the reserved pasta water?

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi christine,
      it’s just to add to the pan if you need to loosen the tomatoes!

  5. Emily S. says:

    5 stars
    Delicious! Was worried about lack of flavor, but even my husband, who likes to have meat in every dinner, commented on how flavorful the pasta was! I added some zucchini as well because we have so much right now. I’m sure you could add other veggies too.

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Thanks for reading as always!
-Steph & Mike