Penne alla Norma

Penne alla Norma

“Pure Goddess, whose silver covers these sacred ancient plants, we turn to your lovely face unclouded and without veil…”

As the story goes, Nino Martoglio, a famous Sicilian poet, writer and theater producer was enjoying this typically Sicilian pasta dish, and he was so enamored by the wonderful taste that he exclaimed: “this pasta is a Norma”, referring to the opera by a fellow Sicilian Vincenzo Bellini and its titular character, Norma. The word Norma was synonymous with perfection, and the nickname stuck. It is safe to say that Nino Martoglio had not exaggerated the qualities of this dish, it is remarkably fresh and fine –  a true Norma…

“Temper, oh Goddess, the hardening of you ardent spirits temper your bold zeal, scatter peace across the earth thou make reign in the sky…” 

(lyrics to Norma’s aria Casta diva)


2 medium-sized eggplants, sliced

sea salt

olive oil

1 onion, sliced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

3-5 Roma tomatoes, sliced

handful of fresh basil leaves, shredded

salt and pepper to taste

60 gr/ 2 oz ricotta salata

penne (or spaghetti)


Slice the eggplants and sprinkle some coarse sea salt on all the slices. Set them aside for 1 hour. To remove the sea salt, gently shake the slices.

Prepare the pasta sauce by sauteeing onion and garlic in a pan. Once the onion has softened, add the sliced tomato and continue frying for about 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile, fry the eggplant slices in a separate pan. Mix the fried eggplant slices with the tomato sauce, and season with salt and pepper and fresh basil leaves. Cook the sauce down and check the taste. Cook the pasta al dente in a pot filled with boiling salted water. Serve with ricotta salata, if not readily available, substitute it with Parmesan cheese.

Penne alla Norma


3 thoughts on “Penne alla Norma

  1. I’ve made this dish before but I’ll definitely have to try your recipe. It’s one of my favourites and my namesake. Norma is my name and I was named after my grandmother who was named after the opera “Norma” that you mentioned. My father’s side were musically orientated and my great uncle was a conductor who conducted this opera in Italy. Just a bit of trivia for you. You can delete if you like 🙂

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