Pasta alla Norma

A simple gluten-free and vegetarian pasta dish with a robust, savory flavor! Tender eggplant, a tomato sauce base, fresh basil and ricotta salata work together for an easy dish with unreal flavor.

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Pasta alla Norma

Fresh, Flavorful, and Unbelievably Delicious!

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This is one of husband’s and my favorite pasta dishes!

We both love eggplant and order this dish out at restaurants often, so it was it was only natural that we recreated it at home.

The crazy thing is that we make this so often and I can’t believe I’ve never shared it here before!

It’s such a simple dish but has the most amazing robust, savory flavor.

Tender eggplant (we used the last of last week’s farmer’s market finds today) in simple tomato sauce base, tossed with gluten-free pasta, and topped with fresh basil and ricotta salata.

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All you need is 10 (mostly) pantry staple ingredients including all the seasoning…

Fresh eggplant

chopped or crushed tomatoes (we like Pomi brand)

extra virgin olive oil

fresh garlic

anchovies (don’t freak out! They are mashed up and add the best flavor!)

crushed red pepper

kosher salt

fresh basil

ricotta salata

and your favorite gluten-free pasta.  gluten-free pasta alla norma #glutenfree #glutenfreerecipes #glutenfreepasta
A note on eggplant…

Both my husband and I grew up with family’s that grew eggplant in the garden and we both grew up loving eggplant!

Choosing a great eggplant isn’t a guarantee, but here are some tips that help us:

  • Look for eggplants with smooth, shiny skin and green stem.  A green stem often indicates that it’s fresher.
  • Eggplants can vary in color (I’ve seen so many new varieties at the farmer’s market recently!) but they are generally a rich, purple color.
  • You want to choose eggplant that are firm, but not rock hard.
  • If possible, look for lighter (as opposed for heavier) eggplants — according to my mother in law, a heavier eggplant can indicate more seeds.
  • We tend to prefer smaller eggplants as we find them sweeter, less bitter and less seedy.  If you happen to cut one open that is particularly seedy, you definitely want to let it sit with a little salt on it for 20 minutes if you can. This will not only release the water but make it less bitter.
  • If you see them, Italian eggplant are smaller and have less seeds according to my mother-in-law.
  • Ichiban egggplant are the long, skinny eggplant and they are often sweeter and not seedy as well.


A note on pasta…

Here with used Banza Rigatoni but I am linking to a recent blog post Our Favorite Gluten-Free Pastas so you can see what else we love.

Back to the Pasta alla Norma…

We love the flavor in this dish–

  • the eggplant is tender, hearty and almost caramelized
  • the crushed red pepper adds a bit of heat (you can add as much or as little as you like!)
  • the anchovies and garlic season the sauce to perfection
  • then topped fresh basil and salty ricotta salata, it melt in your mouth delicious!

And it is one of the easiest pasta dishes to make.

Pro tip: One key to the flavor is to cut the eggplant and let it sit in a strainer with kosher salt for about 20-30 minutes while you do other things.

The salt draws the moisture out of the eggplant so it absorbs less oil when you saute the eggplant and it helps make the eggplant extra tender and mild in flavor.

BUT... if you don’t have time and your eggplant isn’t seedy, don’t worry about skipping this step! I skipped it just the other night and it tasted great!

 gluten-free pasta alla norma #glutenfree #glutenfreerecipes #glutenfreepasta

After this, the dish comes together really quickly!

First, you saute the eggplant until tender and browned (just about 10 minutes).

gluten-free pasta alla norma #glutenfree #glutenfreerecipes #glutenfreepasta

Then set it aside while you saute the anchovies, garlic and crushed red pepper, add tomatoes and let sauce thicken for about 10 minutes.

Then you add the eggplant and fresh basil to the tomato sauce while the pasta cooks.

gluten-free pasta alla norma #glutenfree #glutenfreerecipes #glutenfreepasta

Remember to reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water before draining the pasta to thin the sauce if needed.

Then put the cooked pasta back into the pot, add sauce mix together.

gluten-free pasta alla norma #glutenfree #glutenfreerecipes #glutenfreepasta

Serve into bowls. Top with fresh basil and ricotta salata and enjoy!

gluten-free pasta alla norma #glutenfree #glutenfreerecipes #glutenfreepasta

Hope you love it as much as we do!

Scroll down for recipe and leave a comment if you try.


gluten-free pasta alla norma #glutenfree #glutenfreerecipes #glutenfreepasta
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5 from 1 vote

Pasta alla Norma

A simple gluten-free pasta dish with robust savory flavor! Tender eggplant, a simple tomato sauce, crushed red pepper, fresh basil and salty ricotta mix together for the most unbelievably delicious sauce! Pair with your favorite gluten-free pasta and enjoy! NOTE: Prep time includes, letting the eggplant sit in a strainer with salt for 30 minutes. You could skip if in a rush but the eggplant may absorb more oil when sauteing it.
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time25 minutes
Total Time55 minutes
Course: Dinner, Pasta
Cuisine: Gluten-Free, Vegetarian and Vegan optional
Servings: 3 -4 servings
Author: Healthy Gluten-free Family



  • 4 cups for eggplant skin on, cut into 1/2 inch - 1 inch pieces (approximately 1 1/2 lbs)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil divided
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 anchovy fillets
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes more to taste but this is the right amount of spice for our family
  • 1 750 g 26.46oz container Chopped Tomatoes (we use Pomi brand)
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil chopped
  • extra salt and crushed red pepper to taste

1 8 -12 oz box gluten-free pasta (here we used Banza rigatoni)


  • Fresh basil chopped
  • 3 oz Ricotta Salata shredded (approximately 1/4 cup or more per serving)


  • Place cubed eggplant in a strainer and toss with kosher salt. Let sit for 20-30 mins. The salt will draw out the moisture from the eggplant so that it doesn't absorb as much oil when sauteing and making it more tender and milder in taste.
  • In a large, deep saute pan (you will make the sauce in the same pan), heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium high heat until shimmering, not burning. Add eggplant, saute, stirring frequently for approximately 10 minutes or until tender and browned. If eggplant is sticking to the pan, add a touch more olive oil.Turn off heat and transfer eggplant to a plate and set aside.
  • Let skillet cool a few minutes and wipe clean of any residual eggplant if desired.
  • If you have excess oil from the egpplant, you can use that oil. Otherwise. heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat until shimmering, not burning. Add garlic, anchovies and crushed red pepper flakes. Using a wooden spoon gently saute and stir all while mashing/ breaking up the anchovies, approximately 2-3 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Simmer, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes till well combined and thickened.
  • Meanwhile, boil pasta water so that you can cook pasta when the eggplant goes in to the sauce.
  • Add sauteed eggplant to the tomato sauce. Stir to combine and let cook 5 minutes for flavors to meld.
  • Stir fresh basil into sauce. Let cook an additional few minutes.
  • Taste and season with additional salt and crushed red pepper to taste.
  • Cook pasta al dente or to taste, reserving 1/2 pasta water before draining
  • Place cooked and drained pasta back into the pot it was cooked in. Add sauce to the pasta and toss to combine adding reserved water as needed to get desired consistency.
  • Serve into bowls, top with fresh basil and ricotta salata. Enjoy!
Tried this recipe?Mention @healthyGFfamily or tag #healthyGFfamily!


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5 from 1 vote

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