This easy aubergine pasta is a brilliant vegetarian pasta recipe that makes the most of basic vegetables and some pantry items. This Italian classic is a great addition to your pasta recipe collection.
But roasting ingredients for pasta sauce always brings so much flavour. So for this aubergine (eggplant) pasta that's exactly what we're doing. Roasting the aubergine means that we can keep this pasta recipe much healthier because we're skipping all the oil of the traditionally fried version.
This roasting version is also much less work! Aubergine pasta also called pasta all norma is a classic Sicilian recipe. It got its name from the Italian opera Norma.
⭐️ Why You'll Love Roasted Aubergine Pasta
- It's a simple pasta recipe that is loaded with flavour!
- The roasting process makes this a much healthier version than the original.
- The basil pangratatto elevates this dish from delicious to entertaining worth in about 10 minutes!
This pasta recipe uses only a few ingredients below. I know the addition of harissa spice may seem a little strange, but trust the process. It is incredible!
- aubergine- we're roasting this aubergine rather than frying it to get the most flavour.
- tomato paste (purée)- using paste instead of tinned tomatoes adds the most robust concentrated flavour. It mixes with some reserved pasta water and the aubergine flesh to create a really bold sauce.
- pangratatto- is a topping made with breadcrumbs. The literal translation is "grated bread" and it is sometimes referred to as poor man's parmesan. But it's toasted bread blended with fresh basil to create the most incredible textured topping.
See recipe card for quantities.
📖 Substitutions & Variations
Because this Sicilian pasta recipe requires so few ingredients, there isn't really much to substitute but there are some minor adjustments you can make for allergies or sensitivities.
- Pasta - a tube-style pasta like rigatoni is traditional, but really any pasta will work.
- Butter - use non-dairy spread if required
- Gluten-free - use gluten-free pasta
Seasoning a recipe
A note on seasoning- Every recipe will require salt. I do not specify the amount because seasoning is very subjective to taste, tolerance, and diet. The best way to use salt is to start early in the cooking process and taste and layer as you cook and as the dish develops.
👩🏻🍳 Step By Step
1 & 2 Roasting aubergines
- There's no need to drizzle the aubergine with olive oil or wrap in foil. Simply use a fork to poke holes over the surface to make sure it doesn't explode in the oven. Place the aubergine on a baking tray in the preheated oven for about 45 minutes. Turn it half way through the cooking process.
- Look for aubergines that have smooth shiny skin and no brown spots. It used to be necessary to salt them and apply weights to get out the moisture and temper the bitterness, but as varieties have changed, this is no longer necessary.
- Once the aubergine has cooled enough to handle, use a knife to gently slice open the skin and scoop out the flesh using a spoon. Discard the skin.
3 & 4
*Cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Once cooked, reserve a cup full of the pasta water, then drain and set aside.
- Heat a pan over medium heat and melt the butter. Sauté the garlic until it's fragrant. Whisk the tomato purée into the pan and add in the harissa and aubergine flesh. Use a fork to mash the aubergine and whisk everything into a sauce.
- Pour in some of the reserved pasta water until you have the desired consistency.
5 & 6
- Toss the pasta into the sauce and stir to coat. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
- Grate the lemon zest into the pasta dish.
7 & 8 Making pangrattato
- Thinly slice a dinner roll or some sourdough. Brush both sides with olive oil and bake in the oven until both sides are deep golden.
- Place in the food processor with half a bunch of basil and blend well. Reserve this for topping the pasta with.
- Fridge- this pasta keeps really well in the fridge and makes great leftovers.
- Meal prep- you can also make the sauce and the pangrattato individually and keep the sauce in the fridge or freezer and keep the breadcrumb topping in a separate container in the fridge.
- Freezer- Not suitable for freezing.
Absolutely! For a pasta bake, make the recipe the whole way through except for topping with the breadcrumbs. Instead, place the pasta in an oven-safe dish or pan and top it with a ball of fresh mozzarella. Bake for about 10 minutes until the cheese has melted. Remove from the oven and top with the herb breadcrumbs.
It sure can. You can make the recipe from start to finish, skipping the pangrattato and placing it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Top with the breadcrumbs after reheating.
Easy Homemade Aubergine Pasta Alla Norma
- 1 small aubergine
- 25 g sourdough bread crumbs
- ½ bunch fresh basil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon tomato pureé, tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon harissa spice
- 50 g butter
- 1 lemon, zest and juice
- 200 g rigatoni, penne or another short noodle
- 30 g parmesan cheese grated
- Preheat the oven to 200ºc. Place the aubergine on a baking tray lined with foil. Use a fork to prick holes in the aubergine before placing it on the tray and bake in the oven for 50-60 minutes. Turn the aubergine over after the first 30 minutes. Once the skins have started to split and the aubergine is soft, remove it from the oven and set aside to cool before peeling.
- Slice the sourdough thinly and drizzle with olive oil. Place on the baking tray with the aubergines for the last 10 minutes of baking. The sourdough slices should be crisp and golden when they’re done. Place them in a food processor and blend the crispy golden sourdough and the basil until you have green breadcrumbs.
- Once the aubergine is cool enough to peel, split the skin open and scoop out the flesh. It should be soft enough to mash easily. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Save a cup of pasta water before draining the pasta in a colander.
- Finely mince the garlic and add it to a pan with the olive oil. Saute the garlic until it’s soft and fragrant. Add the tomato puree, harissa spice and butter. Add the aubergine to the pan and stir everything well—season well with salt and pepper. Add ½ the pasta water to the pan and whisk well to turn everything into a silky smoky sauce.
- Add the drained pasta to the pan and toss to coat. Add a little more pasta water to loosen the sauce if required. Stir in the parmesan, and lemon juice. Top with the parsley breadcrumbs to serve.
- Pecorino instead of parmesan
- Some cream to make it a creamy sauce
- Top with some capers or roasted red peppers