Vegan Pasta Alla Norma With Homemade Tomato Sauce (Authentic Sicilian Recipe)

September 15, 2020
When I was in college, my mother always made sure I had plenty of snacks for late-night studying. Yes, I certainly had the college staples of energy bars, crackers, and ramen noodles. But unlike most of my peers, I also had cans of whole peeled tomatoes, boxes of spaghetti, olive oil, cloves of garlic, and a fresh potted basil plant. My Sicilian mother would not let me leave the house and live on my own unless I knew how to make Pasta Alla Norma, from scratch.

During those college years, my then boyfriend (and now husband) and I would take over the tiny dorm room kitchen and make pasta sauce in our little metal pot. The scents of garlic and basil would fill the dormitory, and everyone who walked by would poke their head in and exclaim “What are you making? It smells incredible!!!” Even now, many years later as a married couple with children, this dish is still our go to, easy and delicious, pasta dinner.

Sometimes when my life today as a wife, artist, teacher, and mother of two teens leaves me with precious little time, I will actually purchase a pre-made jar of sauce. My daughters will grumble on those nights and tell me “Mom, we like your sauce so much better…” Their comments make me feel loved and appreciated and remind me that it is worth the tiny bit of extra time to create homemade meals.

The few simple ingredients in this sauce combine to make a luxurious tasting (and smelling) dinner. The pasta is topped with fresh fried eggplant and traditionally, shredded ricotta salata, an Italian cheese made from sheep's milk. To replace the ricotta salata, use Miyoko’s Vegan Mozzarella to recreate this Sicilian classic in a vegan style.
Pasta Alla Norma

Vegan Pasta Alla Norma With Homemade Tomato Sauce (Authentic Sicilian Recipe)

Recipe Type: Hearty Entrees
utensils YIELDS 2-4 Servings
herb graphic for recipe card
  • 1 lb (16 oz) Ziti, Penne, or your favorite pasta
  • 14 oz can of plum tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • one big handful fresh basil
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt for the eggplant
  • to taste salt, for sauce
  • 1- 2 Tbsp Miyoko’s Plant Based Mozzarella
  • 1 medium eggplant
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1. Cook the pasta to “al dente,” to the tooth, so that it is soft but has a little bite to it. Set aside, or prepare other elements while cooking. Cut the eggplant into 1/2 inch thin strips and sprinkle with 1 tsp of salt to remove excess moisture and bitterness. Let the eggplant strips and salt sit in a colander over a bowl or in the sink for about 15 minutes.

2. For the sauce, lightly chop and fry the garlic in the olive oil. Fry the garlic for only a minute or two at most. Be very careful not to let it burn! It is better to undercook the garlic than to overcook it. Take the canned tomatoes and break them up with a wooden spoon (or immersion blender in a separate bowl). Add tomatoes to the garlic and cook over low heat for about 5 minutes. Then, add the chopped fresh basil and perhaps a dash more olive oil and the sugar. Cook the sauce for another 10- minute minutes on low heat, stirring occasionally. Remove sauce from heat.

3. Drain and fry the eggplant in a few tablespoons of olive oil. Spread the eggplant evenly in the frying pan over high heat for about 3 minutes, and then flip to the other side and repeat. Transfer to a plate.

4. Assemble the pasta! Let this be an artistic expression… fill your favorite bowl or plate with the cooked pasta and top the pasta with a heaping ladle full of sauce. Shred a little vegan mozzarella on top and garnish with fresh basil. Mangia!

Also by Angie: Sweet & Simple Authentic Tomato Bruschetta

Hearty Veggie & Barley Casserole

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Photo: Angie Follensbee-Hall

Angie Follensbee-Hall
Angie is an artist, creativity mentor, and yoga teacher. She was born on the captivating island of Sicily at the base of Mt. Etna, and grew up running around in the quiet mountains of New Hampshire and Vermont. Angie loves world cultures and has traveled across the US, Europe, and India. Her free-spirited childhood on two continents, cultural inspirations, and love of the natural world are primary influences in her art-making and creative living. Angie's studies include a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and a Master of Arts degree in Education and Creative Practice from Goddard College. She is an Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher at the 500 hour level, teaching for over 14 years, a Reiki Master Teacher, a Certified Traditional Herbalist, an Ayurvedic Lifestyle Practitioner, and an Attunement Energy practitioner. She has led over 5,000 hours of professional classes and workshops. Learn more about Angie and her offerings at her website:


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