Pasta Alla Nonna

Have you tried Pasta Alla Nonna? This Sicilian delicacy is a mouth-watering blend of roasted eggplant, penne pasta, tomato sauce, fresh basil, and cheese. Baked to perfection, it is a true delight as the cheese melts and the pasta is heated thoroughly.

Pasta alla Nonna

This pasta casserole recipe, inspired by Nonna’s cooking, offers a simple and delicious meal that allows everyone to serve themselves. (I love that!)

My family was craving this the other night, so I decided to make it and finally post the recipe.

Pasta alla Nonna requires a few steps to prepare the ingredients, then they are all tossed together into a casserole dish, baked and serve.

You will need about 1 hour to make it, but so worth it!

A forkful of Pasta alla Nonna by

A Mouthwatering Casserole for Dinner…

For Pasta alla Nonna casserole, you will need 6 ingredients plus a simple tomato sauce. But first, let’s go over the ingredients needed for our mom’s version of nonna’s pasta.

A couple of purple Japanese eggplants, fresh basil, dry pasta and crushed red pepper flakes. by

QUICK TIP! For this recipe, we prefer the Italian or Japanese eggplants. When shopping for either one, make sure they are firm, and without any blemishes or indents.

What is the difference between Japanese and Italian Eggplants from regular eggplant?

  • Japanese eggplants are a sweeter, tender, and more delicate taste than standard American eggplants. They are long and slender with a deeper shade of purple.
  • Italian eggplants are smaller but still quite fat, and the flesh tends to be tender, sweeter and contains fewer seeds than regular eggplants.

Ingredients Needed for Pasta Alla Nonna Recipe:

  1. Eggplants…

The eggplants are cubed and roasted in the oven until golden brown and tender to the fork. No preference of which eggplant you prefer, because both are sweeter and perfect for this dish, and the flavors will amaze you.

2. Tomato Sauce…

A simple tomato sauce is preferred with this recipe, and you will need a lot of sauce, at least 4 cups. We prefer our mom’s quick marinara sauce and have it frozen for quick meals like this one. Also, some of the Sunday Sauces would work too, especially if you have some in the freezer. You can use your favorite jarred sauce as well.

3. The Pasta…

Choose dry pasta like penne, rigatoni, or ziti. You will need to cook the pasta and to an “al-dente.” We enjoy penne rigate for our Pasta alla Nonna. But any one of these pastas will work great.

4. Italian Cheeses…

Salty cheese, such as grated ricotta salata, or pecorino cheese, is preferred. Also, my family loves when I toss in some cubed fresh mozzarella into this casserole, and some on top before baking. Not too much cheese is needed, only just the perfect amount to balance all the flavors.

5. Fresh Basil…

Fresh basil is a must for this recipe! It will give an amazing aromatic flavor to this dish. So don’t leave it out.

6. Crushed Red Pepper Flakes…

To achieve sublime flavor, this dish incorporates crushed red pepper flakes to provide just the right amount of heat.

Pasta Alla Nonna by

How to Make Pasta Alla Nonna?

(*Full recipe card below!)

COOK’s TIP! Choose a large baking dish (10 x 14-inch /4.8QT) to roast the eggplants and use the same one to stir everything together, bake, and serve. This will make for an easy clean-up!

First Step: ROAST the EGGPLANT!

Roasting rather than frying – makes it so much easier. When the eggplants are golden brown and tender, remove them from the oven and stir in some tomato sauce, about 1 cup.

2 photos of eggplant in aglass pyrex baking dish, and tomato sauce stirred in the other. by

Second Step: COOK the PASTA!

Meanwhile, cook the pasta to an al-dente. Then drain, add some tomato sauce (about 1 cup) and crushed red pepper flakes, and stir to combine.

A package of dry pasta o n table, and cooked in a large pot.


Transfer the pasta to the baking dish with roasted eggplant. Stir in the additional tomato sauce (3rd cup), some cubed mozzarella, and fresh basil.

Transferring the pasta to the casserole baking with roasted eggplants.  by

Final Step: TOP with SAUCE & CHEESES and BAKE!

Scatter on top with additional tomato sauce, cubed mozzarella, grated cheese, and fresh basil. Then BAKE until the cheese is slightly melted and the pasta is thoroughly heated through. Remove and serve.

Its’s SO delicious.. it’s off the charts! Everyone will ask for seconds….


Pasta Alla Nonna by

To store, reheat and freeze…

TO STORE: When the pasta is completely cooled, transfer any remaining to a sealed container and place it into the refrigerator. It will stay fresh for up to 3 days.

TO REHEAT: You can reheat easily any portion in the microwave, or in a preheated oven (at 350 degrees) until the pasta is thoroughly heated.

TO FREEZE: Transfer any leftovers into a sealed container and freeze. They will freeze well for up to 1 month.

Additional Recipes with Eggplants…

Yield: 9 servings

Pasta Alla Nonna

A dish with penne pasta with cubes of roasted eggplants and mozzarella cheese.

Pasta Alla Nonna is a mouth-watering blend of roasted eggplant, penne pasta, tomato sauce, fresh basil, and cheese. Baked to perfection, this pasta casserole recipe, inspired by Nonna's cooking, offers a simple and delicious meal for the whole family to enjoy!

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour


  • 3 to 4 Italian or Japanese eggplants - rinsed, cut into 1 - inch cubes
  • 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 16 ounces dry pasta (penne)
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 4 cups marinara tomato sauce
  • 3/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 4 Tbsp. grated pecorino cheese or ricotta salata
  • 1 small fresh mozzarella ball - cubed
  • handful of fresh basil


  1. First, make a quick marinara sauce if you don't have any on hand. If you have some in your freezer, take it out and let it thaw. (See notes below how to thaw frozen tomato sauce)
  2. Preheat the oven to ROAST at 400 degrees F.
  3. Cut the eggplants into 1-inch cubes, toss them into a large 10 x 14-inch /4.8QT.(or 9 x 13) baking dish. Drizzle 3 tablespoons of olive oil over them, and sprinkle a little salt. Roast the eggplants for about 30 to 40 minutes, until they are golden brown and fork-tender.
  4. Meanwhile, put a large pot of water on high heat, add 1 teaspoon of salt, bring it to a full boil. Add the pasta and cook until al-dente. Drain and toss it back into the pot. Stir in the butter.
  5. When the tomato sauce is ready, stir in 1 cup of tomato sauce into the pasta, toss in some chopped basil and crushed red pepper flakes. Stir to combine. Set it nearby.
  6. When the eggplants are done, remove from oven and set the casserole dish on your stovetop. TURN OFF the oven.
  7. Stir in 1 cup of tomato sauce with the eggplants to absorb the sauce. Then transfer the cooked pasta to the eggplant mixture and pour in an additional (3rd cup) tomato sauce, grated cheese and some cubed mozzarella (reserve about 1 cup of mozzarella for the topping).
  8. Gently stir the mixture to combine. Scatter on top with the remaining tomato sauce, grated cheese and cubed mozzarella. Place it back into the "hot oven", uncovered, (no need to turn it back on) for about 10 minutes, until the cheese is melted on top. Remove, garnish with additional chopped basil on top, and serve.
  9. Yields: 9 servings


Keep in mind, both the pasta and roasted eggplants will absorb a lot of tomato sauce, which is the reason you will need at least 4 cups.

Do Not Cover the "cooked pasta" while you prepare the casserole, or it will continue to cook it and you will end up with soft mushy texture.

TO THAW FROZEN SAUCE: There are a few ways to defrost a container of frozen tomato sauce.

  • You can leave the container on your counter to thaw for a few hours while your at work, then it will be ready when you return.
  • Or you can place the frozen container in a bowl and run hot water over it until it thaws enough to transfer it to a medium-sized sauce pot, and heat it on lowest heat until it is fully thaw.

Nutrition Information:


9 servings

Serving Size:

1 serving

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 362Total Fat: 14.3gCarbohydrates: 45gFiber: 8.1gSugar: 10.1gProtein: 17.4g

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram

Pasta all Nonna by

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Thanks for stopping by!

Happy Cooking! πŸ™‚

xo anna and liz

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  1. I haven’t had this dish in years and I love it. It is like combining your favorite pasta marinara with eggplant parmesan. Yours looks really good.

    1. That’s a great description Karen! Thanks so much for stopping by, this recipe is a definite winner. Have a great weekend! πŸ™‚