Zoodles alla Norma (with Tomato Sauce and Eggplant)

May 4, 2015

Zoodles alla Norma (with Tomato Sauce and Eggplant)

I made Pasta alla Norma.
Let me rephrase that.
I made Zoodles alla Norma.
One word: epic.
Another word: simple.
Another word: healthy.
Three words I like to use, especially when it comes to cooking. And I know you do too. Right?


If you’re not familiar with Pasta alla Norma, let me do a little explaining.
Pasta alla Norma is one of the most famous Sicilian recipes in the world. It was named after Sicilian composer Bellini's hugely successful opera Norma.
It’s a pasta dish that uses eggplants, tomatoes, garlic, basil, and olive oil. A good amount of olive oil as a matter of fact.
The eggplants are fried then added to a garlicky tomato sauce and served over pasta sprinkled with fresh basil and aged ricotta salata.


What is ricotta salata?
Ricotta salata is a variation of ricotta that has been pressed, salted and dried. It’s a slightly sour medium-hard cheese that gives to Pasta alla Norma a unique rustic flavor.
It's the traditional cheese used for this dish — but who knows how many times I’ve made Pasta alla Norma using Pecorino or Parmesan cheese with excellent results.
Gourmets will tell you that using ricotta salata sets apart serious Pasta alla Norma from the mundane version.
But since it’s not easy to find, I say go with Pecorino or Parmesan if that’s what you have. It’s still going to be amazing.

Zoodles alla Norma (with Tomato Sauce and Eggplant)

For my version I used zoodles and let me tell you, it was a perfect choice.
The sauce is thick, very thick. And full of flavor. And it complements the zoodles so well, I can’t tell you enough about it.
I chose to slice the eggplants into half moons. You could also chop ‘em up in even sized chunks, your call.
I also used canned diced tomatoes because well, I’m lazy. But if you have fresh tomatoes, go with those.
What I like about these Zoodles alla Norma is that it is such a filling and healthy meal.
Yes, the eggplants are fried — not deep fried though, just fried. But there are tomatoes and zucchini. I mean there are so many veggies it feels like eating a whole vegetable garden in one sitting.
Now excuse me while I go help myself to another serve...

Zoodles alla Norma (with Tomato Sauce and Eggplant)

Zoodles alla Norma (with Tomato Sauce and Eggplant)                                         Print this recipe!

Serves 4

6 medium zucchini

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
2 to 3 small Italian or Japanese eggplants (¾ lbs / 340 gr), trimmed, split in half lengthwise, and cut into ⅜-inch half moons (or chopped into chunks, your choice)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (adjust to taste)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 (28-oz) can diced tomatoes, (I used Muir Glen)
Handful fresh small basil leaves, roughly chopped
2 oz / 56 gr aged ricotta salata, finely grated (if you can’t find it, use Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese.)


Using a spiralizer or peeler create zucchini spaghetti (always read the directions for your spiralizer as they vary by brand - I use this spiralizer.) If you don't have a spiralizer use a regular vegetable peeler to vertically peel long, thin strips of the zucchini. This will form more of a wider "noodle" from the zucchini, like fettuccini.
Transfer zoodles to a large bowl and set aside.
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a 12-inch nonstick (or cast iron) skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add as much eggplant as fits in a single layer and season with salt. Cook, shaking pan occasionally, until eggplant is well browned on both sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer eggplant to a plate lined with paper towels and set aside. Repeat with remaining eggplant, adding olive oil as necessary, until all eggplant is browned.
Add any remaining olive oil and increase heat to medium-high.
Add garlic, oregano, and pepper flakes, and cook, stirring constantly, until the garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Add tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly until evenly incorporated and tomato paste starts to fry. Add diced tomatoes. Bring to a gentle boil, reduce to a bare simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is thickened into a sauce-like consistency, about 10 to 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt. Add fried eggplant and toss to combine.
Add zoodles to skillet and toss. Cook for a couple of minutes, until all is heated through.
Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, garnish with grated ricotta salata and torn basil leaves and serve.

Nutrition facts

One serving yields 348 calories, 26 grams of fat, 28 grams of carbs, and 8 grams of protein.


  1. This looks so light and healthy - perfect for spring and certainly one I'll give a try.
    Love your recipes.


  2. Well that's a hug in a bowl. Gold star for the opera reference! Now to listen to Casta Diva...

  3. I haven't had pasta alla norma in a while and I'm thinking I should just make it at home using this recipe! And I want an excuse to buy ricotta salata :)

    1. I love ricotta salata, it's so expensive though...

  4. I NEED THIS DISH! Looks great, Mike - love that there are eggplants in this dish.

  5. Nope - I've never heard of Pasta alla Norma, nor have I heard of ricotta salata - but, dude - the combo of lightly fried eggplants, tomatoes, garlic, basil, red pepper flakes, oregano and olive oil - ooh such a winner!

  6. Hey MIke, this sounds fantastic, but when does the fried eggplant come back into the mix?

  7. Ohhhhh I LOVE ricotta salata- I used to have it at my aunt's place (who was Italian) and she'd chase me with a fork because it was a) expensive and b) enough salt to make you look like a puffer fish.

    This looks so good and perfect for meatless monday!

    1. Hahahaha loving the ricotta salata story. You were quite a riot A!

  8. It's been many years since I made pasta a la Norma (a fun recipe for me, since one of my sisters is called Norma) - but I roasted the eggplant instead of frying. DOn't remember other specifics of my recipe, it was long before blogging life.

    I must make it again and pair it with zoodles... of course!

    1. You should make your version and post it on your blog Sally!

    2. So many recipes, so little time..... but I will get to it... promise!

  9. I rarely make a carb heavy pasta but I sure do love all the flavours of it - so this recipe is ideal for me Mike! I love zoodles and the rich tomato and eggplant sauce looks seriously delicious too!

  10. I just stopped by the garden center yesterday and grabbed some zucchini starter plants. We've grown zucchini from seed every year up here so far, but I wanted to get a head start on the growing season this year...so starter plant it was. They had some variety of kale there that looked awesome, too. And of course I thought of you. You are the zucchini and kale maester of the Wolfpack! Here's to a long summer of delicious meals straight from the garden! #WolfpackZoodles4Life

  11. This recipe looks great Mike. But I don't have spiralizer, can I just vegetable peeler?

  12. I freaking love zucchini noodles. . and with eggplant too?! brilliant and delicious! love this!

  13. i will try this soon..looks amazing .. i love zoodles and love eggplant.. so thanks for sharing

  14. I love ricotta salata (well all cheese really)! This has every perfect flavor of summer in it from tomatoes and eggplant to basil and zucchini! Can't wait to try this one out!

  15. Good morning! Just letting you know that I featured this in my May round-up of Deliciously Healthy Low-Carb Recipes, which was posted this morning. Love the recipe; I hope a lot of my readers will click over here and try it!