Casarecce, one of my favourite pasta!
Despite having lived in Italy for over 13 years, there are still many different types of pasta I have yet to try, be it cooking, making or just eating them. In fact the main reason for starting this blog was to record my journey through the wonderful world of Italian pasta, so that others can also learn about it and I hope, join me on my pasta expedition! To date, however, one of my favourite pastas still remains casarecce!
Also known as Casareccia in certain areas of Italy, Casarecce are short pasta noodles with curled edges and a groove down the middle. They look a bit like little rolled up scrolls. Casarecce, which literally means “homemade,” were orginally made by rolling small rectangles of dough around a thin wooden pin or metal stick which Italians call a ‘ferro’. Many Italians still use these sticks when making casarecce, or other similar pasta at home. However, commercially produced casarecce are made using either a bronze die in the case of artisan production, or a nylon die for mass production. Here in Italy, pasta produced using a bronze die is considered infinitely superior because the pasta has a rougher surface to which sauces adhere better.
Made in Sicily!
Casarecce are originally from Sicily, but are also very popular in other regions of Southern Italy. The best sauces, therefore, to serve with them are those of traditional Southern Italian origin and based on typically Mediterranean ingredients such as eggplant, tomatoes, cheese and basil.
In Sicily they are often served with what is known as Sicilian pesto, a sauce very reminiscent of the flavours of typical Sicilian produce; ricotta, tomatoes, basil, olive oil and pine nuts. Sicilians, however, have a number of other local pestos, such as Trapanese pesto which is made with basil, almonds, pecorino and tomatoes and almond pesto without the tomatoes Another Sicilian pesto which deserves a special mention here is one of my favourites; delicious pistachio pesto!
Sicily is the only region of Italy where pistachios are grown and the area most well-known for Sicilian pistachios is Bronte, a small town perched on a rocky volcanic slope close to the volcano, Etna. Bronte pistachios are used mostly in making desserts and ice- cream but, as I mentioned before, also a wonderful pesto sauce which Sicilians most often serve with casarecce as well.
Dry casarecce can be found in many countries outside of Italy and a number of UK supermarket chains sell them. So if you haven’t tried them before, look out for them. First time round eat them with homemade pesto if you can. I promise you, you’ll love them!