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story.lead_photo.caption Pasta alla Norma (Pasta with Eggplant) (Linda Gassenheimer/TNS)

Taste the flavors of Sicily in this traditional Sicilian dish. Eggplant gives a meaty-like texture to this vegetarian dinner. The recipe originated in Catania on the Eastern coast of Sicily and is named after the opera “Norma,” which was composed by Sicilian Vincenzo Bellini.

The Parmesan cheese for the garnish is shredded instead of grated. To shred the cheese, use a grater that has large holes. Or you can use grated Parmesan cheese.

Helpful hints

• Any type of short cut pasta can be used such as penne or ziti.

• Any type of pasta sauce can be used.


• Prepare ingredients.

• Place water for pasta.

• Start eggplant saute.

• Boil pasta.

• Complete eggplant sauce.

Shopping list

To buy: 1 pound eggplant, 1 bottle minced garlic, 1 bottle red pepper flakes, 1 jar marinara sauce, 1 package rigatoni, 1 small carton ricotta cheese, 1 small piece Parmesan cheese and 1 bunch basil.

Staples: olive oil, salt and black peppercorns.

Linda Gassenheimer is the author of more than 30 cookbooks, including her newest, “The 12-Week Diabetes Cookbook.” Listen to Linda on and all major podcast sites. Email her at [email protected]



Makes: 2 servings

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 pound eggplant, skin on cut into 1-inch pieces (about 5 1/2 cups)

2 crushed garlic cloves

Pinch red pepper flakes

1 cup marinara sauce

1/4 pound rigatoni pasta (about 2 cups)

1/4 cup ricotta cheese

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup fresh basil, torn into bite-size pieces

2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese

Place a large pot 3/4 filled with water on to boil. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the eggplant and saute about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Lower heat to medium and add garlic, red pepper flakes, and marinara sauce. Simmer 3-4 minutes.

When water comes to a boil add rigatoni and boil 8 minutes. Drain leaving 2-3 tablespoons water in the pot. Return rigatoni to the pot and toss with the ricotta cheese. Add the rigatoni mixture to the eggplant in the skillet. Mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Divide between two dinner plates and top with basil and shredded Parmesan cheese.

Per serving: 471 calories (29 percent from fat), 15.1 g fat (4.8 g saturated, 5.3 g monounsaturated), 22 mg cholesterol, 16.6 g protein, 69 g carbohydrates, 11.2 g fiber, 164 mg sodium.

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