Monday, August 9, 2010

Elba part 2 - Pasta al forno alla siciliana

Greetings again from Elba.

This is the Sicilian dish par excellence, it is to a siciliano what a lasagna is to a bolognese (or a BBQ is to a Texan, lamb is to an Aussi/Kiwi...well, you get the ghist...). Every Sicilian family has a recipe for it, the best recipe for it. It will bring tears to a grown man's eyes when he tastes one that takes him back to his childhood and his mamma's apron strings.

So ladies and gentlemen, I present you the ultimate recipe for Pasta al forno alla siciliana. It may not photograph well, but its flavor makes up for it.
Please keep in mind that this is a complete meal and is not exactly what you would call light fare. But then again, it is a Sicilian recipe, so consider yourself warned.
Also, like most mothers and grandmothers, my mother-in-law does not use exact measures. She has 60 years of experience cooking for a large family and adds a touch here and a splash there, she never weighs her ingredients and uses her senses to check if more is needed. So forgive me if my instructions are a bit unorthodox, I literally had to count slices and handfuls to give you an approximate idea and I had to grill her to get an idea of how much pasta to use. However, if in doubt, do it the Sicilian, way: better more than less!

Ingredients (6/8 people)
1kg anelletti siciliani (fusilli will do just as well)
6 hard boiled eggs
2 large eggplants (my m-i-l uses the light purple Sicilian variety)
approx. 10 thin slices provolone cheese
approx. 10 thin slices mortadella
ragù (meat sauce)
grated parmesan

Slice the eggplant and sprinkle with salt and let sit for a while. Deep fry the slices in a pan in olive oil and then place them on paper towel to absorb excess oil. Prepare the ragù (fry chopped onion, celery and carrot in olive oil, add the minced beef and a bay leaf; when it has browned, add tomatoes, tomatoe sauce or pelati and let simmer on low heat for as long as you can; the longer the better). Boil the pasta and drain when it is still extremely al dente. Lay out all the ingredients. Mix some ragù into the pasta so it doesn't stick. Cover the bottom of a casserole with the ragù, add a layer of pasta, then the eggplant, the mortadella, the cheese, some more ragù and grated parmesan. Repeat the whole operation another time. Then place in the oven at 200°C until it is nice and golden.


  1. Hmmm...quite a dilemma. Beautiful eggplant in the garden. Big juicy pasta dish in the oven in the middle of summer? This looks fantastic! I luv authentic recipes and I am tucking this one away for a cool day!!! Thanx for the recipe! (PS Thanx for visiting our blog - hope to see you again!)

  2. I adore this type of food and I'm going to whip this bad boy up and share with the family this weekend; just the thing. Just chanced upon your blog today and would love to follow along.

  3. UromCooks and Anna, hope you enjoy! Remember, this is not for the faint of heart! Perfect for the winter Down Under, but I'm sure it will taste good in Texas too (thanks to the A/C)! Ciao

  4. Yep this is a real meal deal alright. I live Down Under and we are coming into Winter now which is why I am hunting around for such comforting food. Thanks for posting your version. Time to tie on the apron and give this bad-boy a try!


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