Recipes   /   Pasta alla Norma Nuda – The Naked “Norma”

Pasta alla Norma Nuda – The Naked “Norma”

Aug 9, 2016 by Gabriele Corcos


Pasta alla Norma is a traditional Southern Italian recipe that makes for wonderful summer memories. It is a very seasonal dish but I have to be honest, when I encounter imported produce off season, this is a dish of pasta I cannot resist, even in the middle of December. The dish is usually finished with a few crumbles of ricotta salata, a cheese though I am not particularly fond of… I like fresh and soft ricotta much better, hence the title of this sauce “Nuda” (naked… no ricotta).

This sauce is extremely easy and versatile, my grandmother sometimes boils a few potatoes and adds them to the sauce, turning the whole pot into a side dish for grilled meats. Yes, imagine what you can do with this next time you barbecue your favorite pork sausages.

Serves: 8- 10 / Prep time: 10 minutesCook time: 40 minutes

  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 small red onion, diced small
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 3 (15 ounce) cans whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand
  • 2 medium eggplants, sliced into thin rounds
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 pounds of rigatoni
  • Fresh basil leaves, optional for garnish
  • Parmigiano Reggiano, optional for serving


1Bring a large 10-12 quart pot of water to a boil over high heat.

2Preheat a grill (wood, charcoal, or gas) to medium-high direct heat. Or alternately follow this recipe using an indoor stovetop. (Please note, if cooking on a grill, be sure your pan is heavy bottomed and doesn’t have plastic handles.)

3Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil to a large pan set on the grill grate. Once hot, add the onion and sauté until soft,but before they start to brown.

4Add the red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, but don’t allow them to burn. Add the crushed tomatoes and season with salt and pepper to taste.

5Simmer on a medium-low flame for about 20 minutes. Thrive for balance in the consistency of the sauce, it has to be fluid but it should not look wet. If the sauce is liquidy, cook it a bit more.

6Meanwhile, season the eggplant slices with salt and pepper. Drizzle the eggplant with olive oil, and grill in batches, about 2-3 minutes per side, until they are marked by the grill and cooked through. Remove to a large plate or sheet tray. Allow to cool, slightly, then slice the grilled eggplant into smaller, bite sized pieces. Add the eggplant to the sauce along with the bay leaves.

7Once the large pot of water is at a boil, and the sauce has been simmering, add 2 tablespoons of salt to the water. Add the rigatoni. Cook until al dente, then drain well. Add pasta to the sauce to toss.

8Remove the bay leaves before serving. Serve basil and Parmigiano-Reggiano at the table as an optional garnish for guests.

Tips or Notes:

Canned tomatoes vary brand by brand. Some have more water content. If you find your sauce is watery, cook it a little longer.

Pasta alla Norma is traditionally made with garlic as well as onion and has a garnish of ricotta salata. This is my take on an original recipe hence the title “Nuda”. Feel free to change it up to your liking.

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