Pasta alla Norma is one of those great classic Italian dishes that’s simple to make and hugely satisfying to eat. Flavored with plenty of eggplant, onion, and garlic, it’s on the table pretty quickly, too. In the time it takes to boil the water and cook the pasta, the sauce is started and finished.
Be generous with the red pepper flakes if you like a little spice to your pasta dishes— they really give the flavor a boost. And make sure to see below for a super-easy way to make a vegan Parmesan topping, which is entirely optional, but makes a good dish even better.
Easiest Vegan Parmesan-Style Topping
Homemade vegan Parmesan is usually a combination of nutritional yeast plus ground cashews or almonds.
This version is even easier because you don’t need a machine to make it. Just two ingredients — almond flour (found in most natural foods stores) and nutritional yeast, fondly known as “nooch” — and you’ve got a great topping for pasta dishes like this one featuring spaghetti and zucchini noodles.
A tablespoon or two of this topping provides you with a nice dose of Vitamin B12 (from the nutritional yeast), and almond flour is a great source of Vitamin E and calcium.
What to do: Simply combine a more or less equal amount of nutritional yeast and almond flour in a small container. I usually go with 1/2 cup of each. For that amount, I add 1/4 teaspoon of salt; add your salt to taste. Mix it up well, then cover any unused portion tightly. This will keep well in the fridge almost indefinitely, but there’s no way you’ll make it last that long!
- 1 pound pasta, any shape (see note)
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 2 medium eggplants, sliced 1/2 inch thick, then diced
- 1 large onion, quartered and thinly sliced
- 1 medium bell pepper, any color, diced
- 3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 15- to 16-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 2 cups diced ripe tomatoes
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- Dried hot red pepper flakes to taste
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Fresh basil leaves, whole or sliced, as desired
- Vegan parmesan, optional (see note)
- Cook the pasta according to package directions in plenty of rapidly simmering water until al dente, then drain and return to the pot.
- Meanwhile, stem the eggplants, quarter lengthwise, and slice 1/2 inch thick. Or, simply slice the eggplants 1/2 inch thick and cut into large dice.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet or steep-sided stir-fry pan. Add the eggplant, stir together, and cook over medium-high heat until it's tender, but still holds its shape. Add small amounts of water if need be to keep the skillet moist, but do so sparingly — you don’t want the eggplant to get mushy. Remove to a plate or bowl.
- Heat the remaining oil in the same pan. Add the onion and sauté over low heat until translucent. Add the garlic and bell pepper and continue to sauté until all are golden.
- Add the eggplant back to the pan along with the crushed and fresh tomatoes and Italian seasoning. Cook over medium-low heat, or at a gentle simmer, for 10 minutes
- Combine the eggplant mixture with the cooked and drained pasta in the cooking pot or a large serving bowl.
- Add red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper to taste. Stir in as much fresh basil as you’d like, or use as a garnish.
- Serve at once, passing around vegan Parmesan (see below) for topping individual portions, if desired.
This is good both with long pasta like spaghetti, or chunky shapes like penne or rotini.
You can use packaged vegan Parmesan, but it’s super easy to make your own. Simply combine equal parts nutritional yeast and almond flour (say, 1/3 cup of each) and about 1/4 teaspoon salt. Stir together and there you have it — a delicious vegan Parmesan topping.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 379Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 882mgCarbohydrates: 64gFiber: 11gSugar: 22gProtein: 10g
Nutrition data is always an estimate depending on program used to calculate and exact products used.
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