Grilled Pasta alla Norma

Lush and smoky, Grilled Pasta alla Norma, is our take on this classic Sicilian dish, said to be a favorite of the 19th century composer Vincenzo Bellini and named for his greatest opera heroine.  Bellini was a native of Catania, Sicily as was Vito’s paternal grandmother.  Here we grill the eggplant, yielding a deep, smoky element, prior to incorporating it into the sauce.  Start with our Sicilian Orange Salad, then have our Grilled Pasta alla Norma with penne, ziti or rigatoni pasta, topped with freshly grated ricotta salata, and accompanied by a Nero d’Avolo or Primitivo for a Sicilian themed dinner.

Grilled Pasta alla Norma

Prep Time: 20 minutes, Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes. Serves: 4.

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  • 3 Tbs Cooking Oil (Olive/Canola Oil blend is recommended)
  • 2 Tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp fresh Rosemary leaves, minced
  • 1 medium Onion chopped, approximately 1 cup
  • ½ minced Garlic, approximately 3 or 4 cloves
  • ¼ tsp coarse Sea Salt
  • ½ tsp Crushed Red Pepper flakes
  • ½ tsp Smoked Paprika
  • 1 28-oz. can Whole Peeled Tomatoes, roughly chopped with their sauce and juice
  • ¼ cup dry Red Wine
  • 1 Tb Capers in brine, drained
  • 1 Bay leaf, preferably fresh
  • 1 Tb fresh Oregano leaves
  • 1 Tb fresh Marjoram leaves
  • 1 large Eggplant, approximately 1 lb
  • 3 or 4 4-inch Basil sprigs


  1. Add the cooking oil, extra virgin olive oil and minced rosemary leaves to a 5-quart Dutch oven. Cook, uncovered, over a medium heat for 1 minute to release the rosemary oil into the other oils.
  2. Add the chopped onion, minced garlic and sea salt to the pan and sauté uncovered until golden brown.
  3. Add the crushed red pepper flakes and smoked paprika to the pan, stir and sauté uncovered for 1 minute.
  4. Add the chopped tomatoes, red wine, capers, bay leaf, oregano and marjoram to the pan; stir, cover and simmer at a medium low heat for 30 minutes.
  5. While the sauce is simmering, heat your grill to high. Rinse the eggplant and, using a bread knife, trim the ends and slice the eggplant into ½” thick round slices.
  6. Lay the eggplant slices on the heated grill and grill them until lightly browned, turn over and repeat with the other side. Remove the grilled eggplant slices to a bowl to cool. When the eggplant is cool enough to handle, cut each slice into roughly ½” pieces and return to the bowl.
  7. Rinse the basil sprigs, remove the leaves and discard the stems. Make a pile of the larger leaves, roll them up and slice to yield thin strips, combine with the smaller leaves, and add to the cut eggplant.
  8. Add the eggplant and basil to the sauce and simmer for another 5 minutes. Remove the bay leaf from the sauce prior to serving Grilled Pasta alla Norma.

Grilled Pasta alla Norma