Pasta a la Norma

From Sicily: Culinary Crossroads (Italy’s Food Culture) (Oronzo Editions, LLC, 2008)

Most people actually call this dish Pasta ccâ Norma. This is incorrect because ccâ in dialect means “with”, making Norma a simple ingredient, analogous to pasta ccâ cucuzza, pasta with squash. Norma was the main character of the opera by the same name composed by Bellini, to whom the dish was dedicated. Pasta a la Norma (Pasta Norma-style) refers specifically to this dish dedicated to Bellini who was from Catania. The authenticity of this classic dish depends on the quality and abundance of the sauce, and above all, on the inclusion–and this is a non-optional essential–of salted ricotta as a condiment.


tomato sauce
Extra-virgin olive oil
2 pounds eggplant, peeled and sliced thinly
1 pound spaghetti
6 ounces (3/4 cup) ricotta salata, grated
Fresh basil leaves, torn by hand
Peperoncino, hot red chili pepper, sliced [or dried flakes]
Sea salt

  1. Prepare a simple tomato sauce.
  2. In a large skillet, fry the eggplant slices in olive oil and drain them between paper towels, using a weight for maximum drainage.
  3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the spaghetti al dente, drain, and transfer to a large bowl.
  4. Dress the spaghetti with plenty of sauce and toss with the salted ricotta, torn basil leaves, and chili to taste.
  5. Serve on individual plates and garnish with the fried eggplant slices, more sauce, a grating of ricotta, and more basil leaves.