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Pasta ncasciata alla Siciliana - Sicilia

Pasta 'ncasciata

Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Pasta ncasciata is a typical Sicilian recipe made with popular readily available ingredients. The mix results in a rich enjoyable and satisfying dish which could as well be the whole meal in an abundant portion, due to the diversity of the ingredients.

As with other popular dishes, there are a variety of interpretations, but the ingredients stay the same. Meat sauce in the recipe is reminiscent of the ragù bolognese, but doesn't require as much long cooking. Some use wine too, and more. Also, there is more tomato than in the bolognese.

Pasta ncasciata sometimes ncaciata derives from cacio - cheese. The term ncasciata means embedded in cheese.

As with other popular dishes, there are a variety of interpretations, but the ingredients stay the same. Meat sauce in the recipe is reminiscent of the ragù bolognese, but doesn't require as much long cooking. Some use wine too, and more. Also, there is more tomato than in the bolognese.

Recipe may require eggplants to be peeled, cut in disks and salted to get rid of their bitter taste, then fried.

Boiled eggs are sliced, salame (or similar meat) and cheese cut in small cubes.

Pasta should be mixed in the sauce first. Then in layers on a baking dish, alternating each layer with eggplants, salame, boiled eggs and cheese.

Others mix everything together. That is the way it’s here, and I even simplified the eggplant process.

You may come up with your own way too.

Ingredients for 4-6 people:

  • 3/4 pound of maccheroncelli or short tubular pasta
  • 1/2 cup  olive oil
  • 6 ounces ground beef
  • 1 pound San Marzano tomatoes in purée
  • 10 basil leaves
  • 1 large eggplant cut in cubes
  • 2 ounces salame cut in small cubes or pieces 
  • 2 boiled eggs sliced
  • 12 ounces caciocavallo or similar cheese diced
  • 2 ounces grated pecorino
  • Salt and pepper
  • A  few breadcrumbs

Directions:

Use a baking dish about 9 x 9 inches or similar. Grease baking dish with a little oil and spread breadcrumbs to create a non-stick surface.

First prepare the sauce.  Use a large pot or a deep pan, where you'll add the pasta later. Put 1 ounce of oil and garlic in the pot and color garlic at low heat, then discard it. Add meat, brown lightly and then add tomatoes in purée.‎

Simmer sauce for 50 minutes adding some water if sauce drying up. Shred basil leaves towards the end of the cooking.

While sauce is cooking put the pot with water on the stove for the pasta. Cook pasta only 2/3 of the normal time, as it'll finish cooking in the oven. So if directions call for 12 minutes cooking time, cook only 8 minutes.

Fry eggplant with remaining oil. It should take 5-7 minutes. Then put on paper towel to absorb excess oil. Add the eggplant, boiled eggs, salame, caciocavallo to the sauce you have made and mix all.

Now toss cooked drained pasta in the pot or pan and mix with all ingredients for at least 1 minute.

Pour pasta you mixed into baking dish greased with breadcrumbs and sprinkle grated pecorino on top

Bake at 350F 20- 30 minutes, till pasta will be embedded ('ncaciata) in the cheese.


Fry eggplants at medium high heat.


Pour pasta into the pan with sauce, add all ingredients and mix. 


Bake at 350F 20- 30 minutes, till pasta will be embedded ('ncasciata) in the cheese.


Note: eggplants are supposed to follow same salting process as for pasta alla Norma. With my shortcut, no noticeable difference in taste.  Caciocavallo may be difficult to find.Sweet provolone resemble it Some use also parmesan, add peas to sauce or substitute mortadella to salame. I don't think it will be a noticeable difference some bolognese sauce instead, especially if you have some left over.

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