Penne with Eggplant-Tomato Sauce

Penne with Eggplant-Tomato Sauce
Recipe photo may include foods and ingredients that are not a part of this recipe and not included in the nutrition analysis.
Source: The Mediterranean Diabetes Cookbook, 2nd Edition. Recipe Credit: . Photo Credit: Renee Comet.
AKA Pasta Alla Norma, this is a traditional first course offered throughout Italy. Norma was the name of an opera by Bellini that was popular when poet, writer, and scholar Nino Martoglio was so impressed by the dish that he declared it a masterpiece, like the opera. This dish is so loved that other noteworthy acts are now referred to as “alla Norma,” meaning “successful” or “grandiose,” in some parts of Sicily. This is one of my family’s favorite dishes.
  • Prep time
    5 min
  • Cook time
    40 min
  • Servings
    8 Servings
  • Serving size
    1 cup
Nutrition Facts

Nutrition Facts

8 Servings

  • Serving Size
    1 cup
  • Amount per serving Calories 300

  • Total Fat 90g
    • Saturated Fat 2.1g
    • Trans Fat 0g
  • Cholesterol 5mg
  • Sodium 150mg
  • Total Carbohydrate 45g
    • Dietary Fiber 9g
    • Total Sugars 6g
  • Protein 10g
  • Potassium 440mg
  • Phosphorus 215mg

Choices/Exchanges: 2 Starch, 3 Nonstarchy vegetable, 1 1/2 Fat



  • large eggplants
    2 (about 2 lb total)
  • olive oil (divided)
    1/4 cup
  • garlic (minced)
    2 clove
  • no-salt-added strained tomatoes or tomato puree
    1 (26-oz) box or can
  • crushed red pepper flakes
    1 pinch
  • fresh basil (roughly torn)
    6 leaves
  • salt
    1/4 tsp
  • black pepper
    to taste
  • dried whole-wheat penne rigate, or gluten-free pasta
    3/4 lbs
  • grated pecorino Romano cheese
    1/2 cup


  1. Preheat broiler. Using a sharp knife, slice eggplant into 1/4-inch slices, and place on a baking sheet. Brush the eggplant with 2 Tbsp olive oil, then broil for 5–7 minutes per side until they are dark gold and cooked through. Set aside to cool. (This step can be done a day in advance.)

  2. Heat remaining olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until it begins to release its aroma, but do not allow garlic to turn color.

  3. Pour in tomatoes, and stir. Add crushed red pepper, basil, salt, and freshly ground pepper. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 20 minutes.

  4. When eggplant is cool enough to handle, stack three slices together, and chop into dime-size pieces. Repeat until all eggplant is chopped.

  5. While sauce is still cooking, bring a gallon of water to a boil over high heat. Add pasta and cook until al dente.

  6. After sauce has cooked for 20 minutes, turn off heat, remove lid, and add eggplant pieces and cheese. Stir well. Cover, and simmer sauce over medium heat until pasta is done cooking (10–12 minutes).

  7. Drain pasta. Toss in sauce to coat. Serve hot garnished with chopped basil (if desired).