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Lisa’s Pasta alla Norma

Pasta alla Norma

In all of Italy, but especially in Sicily, eggplant is a staple of the Mediterranean diet. You never tire of this versatile vegetable because there are so many interesting ways to prepare it! Plus, for those vegetarians out there, eggplant can be a staple, like a meat! Pasta alla Norma is the traditional Sicilian dish Lisa ate growing up and it is a recipe that never fails. Here is Lisa’s classic version. In Italy you will sometimes find “panna da cucina” (cooking cream) or besciamella added to the tomato sauce (Lisa used her favorite brand of packaged Besciamella from Esselunga in Italy- Chef!- but you can also make the sauce from scratch (see Lisa’s recipe in Whatever Happened to Sunday Dinner!)). Pasta alla Norma is another “layering” dish which is easy for members of your family to help you prepare in the kitchen. Watch how Lisa layers and puts together this dish herself on Tik Tok, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube!

Lisa’s Pasta alla Norma Ingredients:

4 large eggplants, peeled and sliced in rounds approximately 1/8” thick

Lisa’s Authentic Classic Tomato Sauce

2 lbs penne or rigatoni

1 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Lisa’s Pasta alla Norma Directions:

Place sliced eggplant in a larger colander in the sink, making sure to salt each layer of eggplant. Allow eggplant to “cry” for at least 30 minutes. (Watch Lisa’s video on how to let your eggplant cry here!) Then rinse each piece of eggplant to rid them of salt and bitter juices. Pat dry with paper towels. Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan and sauté a few slices of eggplant at a time, turning them until golden on both sides. Do not allow to burn. (To prevent eggplant from burning, add more olive oil to the pan.) Set sautéed eggplant aside.

Meanwhile, bring a large pan of water to boil. Prepare a large casserole, preferably 13” x 9” and approximately 2 ½” deep, by coating the bottom of the casserole with tomato sauce.

Pasta alla Norma

Cook the pasta al dente, at least 3-4 minutes less than ordinary time. Drain, set aside.

Pasta alla Norma

Begin layering pasta, sauce, eggplant, and cheese until the casserole is full. (The eggplant should be placed overlapping each other slightly.) When the casserole is full, place layer of sauce on top and cover with cheese. Pasta alla Norma

Pasta alla Norma Pasta alla Norma

Pasta alla Norma

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Pasta alla Norma


  • Lisa Caponigri

    Lisa Caponigri is the author of This is Sunday Dinner and Whatever Happened to Sunday Dinner?, published by Sterling Epicure. Both of Lisa's cookbooks brim with her memories of living in Italy, both as a child and as an adult raising her own family, anecdotes about her family, regional and seasonal Italian specialties, and all the advice needed to get a spectacular Sunday Dinner on the table, every Sunday of the year. She has developed a line of prepared foods and sauces called Lisa’s Italian Kitchen. Lisa debuted on HSN and has appeared on QVC. She has also appeared on a variety of television programs, including Seattle's New Day Northwest, Good Morning Toronto, Chicago's WGNLunchbreak, and New England Cooks, to name a few. Lisa is frequently consulted as an expert in Italian lifestyle and food. Lisa Caponigri lives in South Bend, IN and travels frequently to Italy to research the latest in "la dolce vita". Visit to learn more about Lisa!

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