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Pasta ncasciata (page 2 of 2)

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Uber-cult baked Sicilian pasta very rarely seen outside the island. Eating it off your computer screen is calorie-free.
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I make my own maccheroni rigati with the Kenwood/Delonghi Pasta Machine - Kenwood the British family company that is. But almost nodoby does, even in Sicily, so you can use bought pasta. Just make sure it is made from semolina (hard wheat) and bronze extruded for an extra coarse surface that sauce will coat well.

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Start your oven to high. Fill your largest pot with water, add salt and NO oil and bring this to a rolling boil.

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Cook your pasta but keep it quite al dente - undercooked, as it will continue to cook in the sauce.

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Choose an oven-resistant dish large enough to accomodate the pasta and all the other ingredients. Oil the inside thoroughly and add as much breadcrumbs as needed to coat the entire surface. This will prevent your pasta from sticking. Just move the dish like a gold digger move her platter.

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Now for the final stage. Add just enough pasta to cover the bottom of your dish, then cover with meatballs...

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... and proceed with some of the eggplants, garlic and sliced eggs and freshly chopped basil.

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Add some of the grated cheese and don't be mean - cheesy is beautiful.

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Continue until you run out of ingredients. Top with grated cheese and bake in the oven. Now for the baking there are various ways. Some people do it like a Neapolitan frittata di maccheroni, in a pot on the gas stove. Other put a lid on a put and cover it with hot embers for extra crispiness on top. Most modern cooks do it in the oven, but it will take several trials until you get the really crispy pasta that gives its dish yet another layer of charm.

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Remove from the oven and call your guests to the table - they won't have long to wait. Place a plate on top ...


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... and turn the baking dish upside down.

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Use a knife to pry the pasta n'casciata open ...

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If you do this recipe at home please let me know how it worked for you by submitting a comment or send me a picture if you can. Thanks!


  • #1
  • Comment by vespa rossa
Mamma mia, che belleza!
  • #2
  • Comment by John Harman
I just "stumbled" upon your site a couple of days ago. I have already ordered, on your advice, "The Magic of Fire". Today, with some time on my hands, I am cooking eggs for 300 minutes. Do you think they would be a good substitution for the hard boiled eggs in the Pasta Ncasciata?Thanks for a fascinating web site.
  • #3
  • Comment by Lyra
I really shouldn't come to your website right before lunch. Now I'm drooling and I can't take my lunch break for another hour...
  • #4
  • Answered by fx
Lyra, the blog is made to be eaten in mind only, after this virtual meal a light salad will fill you up!
  • #5
  • Answered by fx
Hello John, yes of course you could very well use the 300 minutes eggs in the Pasta ncasciata, but perhaps you could save them to eat with anchovy vinaigrette as a starter or intriguing snack. If your oven has trouble maintaining 105 celsius, you could add a dish filled with water in the oven to stabilize the temperature. Let me know how the eggs turn out!
  • #6
  • Answered by fx
Ci sono alcuni cuochi che fanno la pasta ncasciata come un timballo di melanzane, è ancora più bello però non è veramente il modo tradizionale. Grazie per la visita!
  • #7
  • Comment by Food & beverages
Hello buddy, really enjoyed ur blog! Mmm, it's a nice cuisine I like it. Thanks a lot for sharing information with us. Keep up the good work!
  • #8
  • Comment by Ben
Hi FX, in the article 'Fry eggplants like a S. Mama' the eggplants are sliced length wise and deep fried, above it looks like they are sliced horizontally and pan fried instead of deep frying. Were they also salted and washed before you panfried them in the garlic oil?
  • #9
  • Comment by Tara
This is such a unique dish and looks delicious.  I will give this a try and post it on my blog.  I'll let you know when I do so you can come check it out!
  • #10
  • Answered by fx
Thanks a lot for your visit! Do you have a blog too?
  • #11
  • Answered by fx
Ben, I did this recipe before learning how to fry eggplants like a Sicilian Mama. So on the pictures they are fried like a Swiss foodie, neither salted nor washed, peeled and cut crosswise. They taste mighty fine too but after all, I think the fried eggplant skin has a nice taste too.
  • #12
  • Answered by fx
Tara let me know how this works for you! Don't forget to let the pasta become really crispy as you bake it. What is your blog's address?
  • #13
  • Comment by Don
Hi there, just found your site and am very impressed , you have a great writing style, and obviously, equally great recipes,, bravo
Yummy! Good recipe. Thanks
  • #15
  • Comment by Jay
FX - Great website, just found it, and it's exceptional.  Quick question, approximately how long should it bake in the over?  Did you prepare it in individual dishes? Its difficult to judge scale in the photos? Do you ever do wine suggestions?
Wow, that's incredible! Simply gorgeous. And you made your own pasta! My little 'ncasciata looks pale in comparison. I loved seeing the caciocavallo, too; that's something I can't get around here. I'll have to try this dish again, making it in a bowl rather than a flat baking dish. Thanks for visiting my blog and letting me know about your site! Ciao.
Now this is delicious, really mouth watering? Do you think I can use smoked scamorza cheese instead of caciocavallo?Ciao ciao da Roma
  • #18
  • Comment by Tamh
Wow! Absolutely gorgeous photos! Wonderful! Such a great way to show the process. Thanks :o)
Today, with some time on my hands, I am cooking eggs for 300 minutes. Do you think they would be a good substitution for the hard boiled eggs in the Pasta Ncasciata? Thanks for a fascinating web site.
  • #20
  • Comment by Rick
I made this dish tonight. It was very good. I used Italian sausage for the meatballs and added thinly sliced onions and mushrooms.
  • #21
  • Answered by fx
Thanks a lot Don, I am working on my writing style in English and hope to improve it in the future!
  • #22
  • Answered by fx
Jay thanks for your comments! Pasta ncasciata should bake as long as it takes for the pasta on the top and sides to turn crispy, around 20 minutes.  Yes, you can very well prepare it in individual dishes as it is done in restaurants. For wine use a strong-bodied Sicilian red wine. Good luck!
  • #23
  • Answered by fx
Lisa thanks a lot for your nice comments! Every ncasciata is different and there are many variations. Conversely I'll try to coat the dish sides with eggplants the next time!
  • #24
  • Answered by fx
Ciao, thanks for the visit! Yes indeed I guess you could use smoked scamorza too, it's the same family as the caciocavallo. Some people do it with mozzarella, but caciocavallo is just more Sicilian! But in Rome you won't have any trouble finding some, try perhaps the Volpetti near the Piramide.
  • #25
  • Answered by fx
Thank you Tamh! Try to make pasta ncasciata if you have a chance.
  • #26
  • Answered by fx
Satachai, yes you can use 300 minutes eggs in the pasta ncasciata, but it's a pity, you should rather serve them as a starter or snack and use plain hard-boiled eggs in the pasta.
  • #27
  • Answered by fx
Rick, thanks for visiting and trying out the Pasta Ncasciata! Hope to see you back!
OMG.  My dad was born in Naples (Italy, not Florida) so I grew up on authentic Italian food.  Your beautiful baked pasta makes me want to prepare it right away!  It looks like a baby "timpano" from Big Night.  Luscious...Simply luscious looking!  Buon Appetito, Chiffonade
  • #29
  • Answered by fx
Chiffonade, I am glad my pasta 'ncasciata reminded you of beloved childhood memories! Thanks and hope to see you around my blog.
  • #30
  • Comment by Jason
I haven't even tried this and already I have an overwhelming sensation that I've died and gone to heaven! I will make it this week. fx, Thank you for your wonderful site and scrumptious tastes. You are a superb Gastronome and Aesthete. Keep up the fantastic work.
  • #31
  • Answered by fx
Jason please don't die just yet and try to make yourself pasta 'ncasciata. If they have a pasta menu in Heaven they sure must have it, but you never know where you're headed and they certainly don't have it down below!
This dish looks absolutely worth of every calorie it contains. It brings back childhood memories. I remember my mom (who is from Palermo) making something similar. I have to absolutely make this for my family.  Grazie for sharing this recipe!
  • #33
  • Answered by fx
Liliana, thanks for your kind words! Indeed pasta ncasciata is Sicilian soul food, I hope it works for you. You can make the polpette and ragù the day before and then everything is a breeze.
  • #34
  • Comment by mike levy
Itʻs a beautiful thing your website is. inspirational and informative. living in san francisco,CA. itʻs nice to have so many of the necessary  ingredients at hand.  I am however not able to find any nice pasta extruders, any ideas? Thanks, m
  • #35
  • Answered by fx
Mike, thanks for visiting! Pasta extruder are very easy to buy in the US. You can get one on Ebay, Amazon.com or from a variety of online shops. Mine is a Kenwood Major kitchen machine, Kenwood the British company founded by Ken Wood, not the tentacle of the General Octopus conglomerate.
  • #36
  • Comment by Pietro
Good recipe! I don't know if I missed it but somewhere should be stated that the meatballs should be very small...I personally prefer the mozzarella instead of caciocavallo and add a few slices of cured red salami ( salciccia)
  • #37
  • Answered by fx
Pietro, you are very right that the meatballs must be small ('polpettine' rather than 'polpette') and salsiccia is a great addition!
  • #38
  • Comment by Fity
Looking at your photos, I know I have to make this dish! I have a problem though.. would it taste as good without the meatballs? Any suggestion for meatless alternatives?
Thanks a lot!
  • #39
  • Answered by fx
Fity, you could do this without the meatballs, try perhaps with eggplant balls or just little balls of mozzarella. I was about to suggest veal testicles but I guess that's not up your alley!
  • #40
  • Comment by Mike W
Having read many of the Montalbano books and seen this dish mentioned on a number of occasions, my Google search led me to your fantastic and beautifully eccentric site. This is a truly amazing dish, and your recipe expertly guided me though what is a reasonably complex process. I can't get enough of pasta n'casciata now. I even had a dream about it last night! More Montalbano recipes in the pipeline?
  • FX's answer→ Thanks Mike! Yes, many more, just click on the keyword "Montalbano" at the top of the article or from the Topic cloud accessible from the menu, and you'll get a complete list. Happy cooking!

  • #42
  • Comment by Tom
Cheesy is beautiful - never a truer word written! What a stunning looking dish, will be cooking this asap . . .

A question for you though - where do you source the caciocavallo cheese (and also the pecorino you use in other recipes)?

I live just over the French border from Geneva in the Aravis and, though there is a wealth of amazing cheese on offer at every turn here, I sometimes do yearn for something from a bit further afield. Any suggestions for finding cheesy nirvana in the Leman area?

Thank you, for any answer and even more so for your heavenly site.

  • FX's answer→ Tom I have all the troubles in the world locating Caciocavallo here, it's not widely sold outside Italy. Your best bet is to either find an Italian grocery store run by some mama from the South (a mama from the North wouldn't know Caciocavallo from a rugby ball), or find the same at local food market. There is one in Vevey run by a gentleman from Puglia and he sells them on Saturdays.

  • #44
  • Comment by Fasulye
!Hola François! Estoy buscando recetas vegetarios en idomas extrangeros. Me gusta mucho la cocina Medeterania! Elegí la receta "Pasta N'Casciata", pero no sé, si es possible cocinar esta receta sen carne. Es espãnol es muy útil para extender mi vocabulario de alimientos. Pero tengo que utilizar mi diccionario. He visto que no hay muchas recetas vegetarias su este site. Pero quisiera probar de cocinar este. De verdad no estoy tan avanzada cocinando que con el aprendizaje de idomas. Aprender idiomas es más fácil...  
  • #45
  • Comment by Rosaria
Ciao FX,

Obtained your website from the Sicilian Geneology group.  Someone asked about baked pasta.  I have just put it in the oven and am axiously awaiting.  It brings back memories from Terrasini, Sicily where my family is from.  I am second generation 100% Sicilian.  Thank you for keeping the Sicilian food culture and its diversity alive.  Viva Italia!
Viva America!
  • #46
  • Comment by aline
I LOVE THIS WEBSITE!!! with all my heart! thank you! do you have a recipe with chorizo and pasta??
What a rich dish! I'm gonna try it tomorrow. Thanx for great recipes! And great photos!
  • FX's answer→ Yes this one is really a great recipe, I need to cook this again soon.

  • #49
  • Comment by Don Emery
Terrific dish, but:L

- What temperature?  I used 350f and while wonderful, it never crisped up
- How long to cookj?  20 minutes @350 didn't work enough to get it to hold together

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