Pasta alla Norma is a traditional Sicilian dish, named in honour of the famed opera ‘Norma’, written by Sicilian-born composer Vincenzo Bellini. Traditionally, Norma sauce features aubergines grown in the outskirts of Catania, a sun-drenched area in the east of Sicily. Beyond the creamy aubergine, tomatoes are an ingredient that is integral to a good Norma sauce - we love to use the plump and blushing San Marzano variety that flourish from the volcanic soil surrounding Mount Vesuvius in Campania. This exquisite tomato is noted for its thick flesh and sweeter taste, ensuring it is the perfect base for this luscious vegan sauce. A good splash of vegan red wine and fragrant basil, and this simple yet delicious plant-based pasta sauce is complete.
Traditionally, pasta alla Norma is topped with a generous scattering of ricotta salata, meaning 'salted ricotta'. To capture the saline flavour of this garnish, we recommend topping this vegan dish with salty capers, as well as a final sprinkle of basil.
Our vegan Norma sauce recipe
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 45 minutes
Calories per serving: 452kcal
- 400g vegan pasta*
- 400g San Marzano tomatoes
- 2 whole aubergines, roughly cubed
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 carrot, finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 175ml vegan red wine
- 3tbsps extra virgin olive oil,
- 7-8 leaves basil, finely shredded
- ½ tsp sugar
- ½ tsp oregano
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
- Optional garnish: capers and more basil
*Want to make your own fresh, vegan pasta from scratch? We have a handy guide to homemade vegan pasta, and it’s easier than you’d think!
- Place the cubed aubergine on a plate or tray, and generously salt. Set aside for roughly 15 minutes, in order to draw out the moisture.
- In a large pot over medium heat, heat 1tbsp olive oil. Add the onion and carrot, and fry until softened. Add the minced garlic, and continue to sauté until fragrant, being careful not to burn anything.
- Set this mixture aside, and add 2tbsp oil to the pan. While the oil heats, pat the aubergines dry with kitchen paper, before adding the cubes to the pan, in a single, uniform layer. Fry the aubergine until golden, for around 5 minutes. You may need to do this in batches, to ensure the pan is not overcrowded.
- Once all the aubergine is cooked, add the onion, garlic and carrots back to the pan, as well as a glug of vegan red wine.
- Add the tomatoes, then half fill the empty can with water, and add this to the pan too.
- Add a sprinkling of sugar, the shredded basil and oregano. Stir to combine, and allow the mixture to simmer for around 30 minutes, until the sauce has thickened, and the aubergine is tender. Once thickened, taste and season with salt and pepper accordingly.
- 10 minutes prior to serving time, bring a pot of generously salted water to a boil. Add your vegan pasta, and cook according to instructions, until al dente.
- Strain the pasta, ensuring to reserve a little of the starchy pasta water. Add the pasta to the pan containing the sauce, as well as a splash of the pasta water. Toss until the pasta is well coated.
- Plate and garnish with a scattering of salty capers and fresh basil, and enjoy. Buon appetito.
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