The Ultimate Pasta al forno

Editorial

Pasta al forno – Baked pasta, we all know it!

Whether it was during your student days when you whacked out the old tin of tuna mixed it around with some overcooked pasta and stuck it in an oven with lots of cheese until overly crisp because you forgot about it! or the one we are about to share with you now Sicilian style!

Pasta ‘Ncasciata, if you have ever watched the Sicilian detective series Montalbano written by Andrea Camilleri you will know that Detective Montalbano himself is obsessed with food but particularly his baked pasta “Pasta ‘Ncasciata” typically made with a short pasta, coated in a tomato sauce and baked with layers of fried aubergine and caciocavallo cheese.

Baked pasta which you may feel is nothing special to be shouted about because it has been made so many times with several recipes and all over the world right? Well, when you delve into the traditions of Sicilian cuisine you will soon discover that this dish is not like any baked pasta you have made before and we want to share with you one of our recipes for baked pasta – Timballo Siciliano.

The Timballo Siciliano is a form of baked pasta, baked inside a Timbale mould which gives its name and its shape. Typically made with Pasta anelletti (little rings) it has a filled centre of fried aubergine or beef ragu.

In the Strazzanti household, we have many food traditions like most Italian families, and we make our Timballo with either aubergine inside and then layered with extra fried aubergine slices on the outside or our classic beef ragu with peas and boiled egg. The latter tends to be more for the bigger celebratory occasion for instance like New Year’s lunch as it’s also an amazing showstopper on the table and here is the recipe for you to try at home.

Remember, every family have their own versions of recipes, passed down from generations so if there is something in our recipe that someone else might not use then that’s ok, cooking is personal and comes from the heart and develops over time and with what ingredients were available so it will always be unique with similarities to any individual or family household who is cooking it.

Buon appetito!