Sicilian Food & Traditions

Pasta alla Norma: the original recipe

Pasta alla Norma is one of the most famous Sicilian first-course meals. Tourists cannot leave Sicily without trying it. Despite its very long tradition, there are nowadays many versions of this tasty plate, each of them with its own peculiarity. But how is it prepared?

The history

This Sicilian speciality was born in the city of Catania. It took this name between the 19th and 20th century, when the author Nino Martoglio compared this dish to Bellini’s piece La Norma for its deliciousness.

How to prepare a traditional Pasta alla Norma

To taste it at best, it is recommendable to try Pasta alla Norma during the spring/ summer season. In fact, its main ingredients, fresh tomatoes and aubergines, grow under the warm Sicilian sun in Summertime.

The first step is preparing the tomato sauce in a pan with a spoon of oil and garlic; after that, you have to separately fry the aubergines (the violet ones) cut in slices or small cubes.

The type of pasta is important, too: the traditional dish is with maccheroni pasta (better if homemade), but sometimes we also use spaghetti.

Another significant aspect is the type of cheese that you sprinkle on top of Pasta alla Norma, which usually is ricotta cheese. Depending on the area where you try this meal, you will see different types of ricotta cheese grated on top. On the south-east regions of Sicily you will find salted ricotta; on the north-west part of the island, people usually have the smoked one. Some people, furthermore, use Parmigiano cheese, although this is not what a true-Sicilian would do!

Finally, one or two leaves of basil will be the icing on the cake.

Pizza alla Norma

Curious facts:

  • September 23th is the National Pasta alla Norma Day.
  • In Sicily, it is possible to try many dishes inspired to this preparation, like pizza, arancini and scacciate (these two are typical Sicilian street food items)
  • In our tour Etna Wine Alcantara it is possible to try a very Sicilian Pasta alla Norma; it could be the right reason to book this tour with us!