Fileja Pasta alla Silana Recipe from Calabria.

Fileja Pasta alla Silana Recipe from Calabria, Southern Italy.

This fileja pasta alla Silana is a typical rich and hearty Calabrian recipe. It contains some of the tastiest and best known products of this Southern Italian region, including spicy sausage and peperoncino.  Perfect winter comfort food!

fileja pasta alla Silana

La Sila.

Pasta alla Silana originated in La Sila or the Sila, a mountainous plateau and historic region in Calabria. This extraordinary territory is the only mountain massif that rises in the heart of the Mediterranean. The centre of the Sila is a huge national park of forests, valleys, rivers, waterfalls, arboreal giants, cliffs and canyons. It’s also home to a lot of wild life including bears and wolves! The earliest traces of human presence go back to 3,500 B.C., proved by the archaeological remains of a Neolithic village which were found a few years ago on the south shore of Lake Cecita. 

fileja pasta alla Silana recipe from Calabria

The cuisine of La Sila.

The kitchen of the modern day inhabitants of La Sila is still rooted in ancient traditions. Foraged mushrooms, beans, potatoes, and cheeses (like Silano caciocavallo), chili peppers (peperoncino) and sheep and pig meat are the basis of the Sila cuisine.

ingredients for pasta alla Silana

Being a mountainous area that was isolated from the rest of Italy, especially in winter, the people of La Sila developed ways to process and preserve food. They are well known for their pork products like soppressata, lardo, capicollo,  pancetta, sausages, prosciutto and the typical Calabrian soft spicy sausage nduja. They also pickle  mushrooms, grapes, vegetables and olives according to ancient traditions.

fileja pasta from bottega di Calabria

Fileja pasta alla Silana.

Pasta alla Silana is one of the most well-known pasta dishes from this part of Calabria. This very filling and hearty recipe is full of typical Sila foods. It is actually a pretty popular recipe in other parts of Italy and Calabria, so there are some slightly different versions. However, the main ingredients are mostly the same, tomatoes, sausage, guanciale, porcini mushrooms, caciocavallo cheese, peperoncino and pecorino.

chopped onions, cheese, guanciale, porcini and tomatoes in white bowls

The main differences I found in versions of this recipe was that most called for aged Calabria sausage, without specifying which type. However, one recipe specified soppressata. Since I had some fabulous slightly spicy Calabrian soppressata, I used that.

chopped soppressata, guanciale and red onion in skillet with olive oil

For those who don’t know it, soppressata is a type of salami made with pieces of lean pork, lardo, black pepper, sometimes a little fennel and peperoncino or sweet red peppers.  You can also use other types of Calabrian sausage or salami. I think even chorizo would work.

chopped soppressata, guanciale, red onion and peeled tomatoes in skillet

Other variations of pasta alla Silana

Some pasta alla Silana recipes also include prosciutto crudo, but I didn’t add it.  If you don’t have any guanciale (pork cheek), you can also use pancetta. I came across a number of versions with it. In addition, not all recipes include porcini mushrooms and when they do, they are usually dried porcini. However, I used frozen porcini.

chopped soppressata, guanciale, red onion and peeld fresh tomatoes in skillet with tomato polpa from mutti

Also, I was lucky enough to have some caciocavallo Silano cheese from La Sila! This is probably the most well-known cheese from Calabria. The word ‘caciocavallo’ actually means ‘cheese on horseback’! It probably originates from the ancient custom of drying the cheese forms attached in pairs over a horizontal eave or beam.  But, you can also use provola, provolone or even mozzarella.

porcini mushrooms added to alla Silana sauce in skillet

The fileja pasta.

Many online pasta alla Silana recipes are made with rigatoni. However, in La Sila, you are more likely to find it with ‘macaroni al ferretto’ also called fileja. Fileja is a very typical Calabrian pasta of ancient origin. This pasta actually has different names in different parts of Calabria. However,  traditionally, it’s made by wrapping 2-3in pieces of flour, salt and water pasta dough around a thin wooden stick or piece of metal (ferretto).

You can read more about this pasta in my fileja post. Although fileja is traditionally a fresh pasta, nowadays you can buy it dried.

Bottega di Calabria.

I recently discovered a wonderful online shop that sells typical Calabrian food! Bottega di Calabria is the place to go for Calabrian culinary goodies if you can’t find them where you live. This company sent me a selection of their products  to use in some of my recipes. I started with their fileja pasta, but they actually sell all the main ingredients you would need for this recipe.

Fileja pasta alla Silana

On their site you can find fileja pasta,  soppressata, caciocavallo Silano, Calabrian pecorino and provola as well as Calabrian pancetta and guanciale! Of course they also sell my favourite Calabrian product, nduja! This spicy soft salami is the main ingredient in pasta with nduja.

bowl of fileja alla Silana on table with empty white plate, fork and red glass

Unfortunately, Bottega di Calabria don’t currently ship to the USA. But, if you are located in UK or the rest of Europe, you might want to check them out! I loved their fileja and can’t wait to try the other products I have.  https://www.bottegadicalabria.com/

pasta alla Silana from Calabria

If you do try this fileja pasta alla Silana recipe, I’d love to hear what you think. Please write a comment here on the blog or post a comment on the Pasta Project Facebook page.

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Fileja alla Silana recipe from Calabria

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Disclaimer: Although this post is sponsored by Bottega di Calabria, all opinions are my own.

Fileja pasta alla Silana
5 from 27 votes
Fileja pasta alla Silana
Fileja Pasta alla Silana from Calabria
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
40 mins
 

This fileja pasta alla Silana is a typical rich and hearty Southern Italian pasta recipe made with some of the tastiest and best known products of Calabria, including spicy sausage and peperoncino.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Calabria, Italian, Mediterranean, Southern Italian
Keyword: authentic Italian pasta recipe, caciocavallo, Calabria, fileja, guanciale, porcini, spicy sausage
Servings: 4
Author: Jacqueline De Bono
Ingredients
  • 400 g fileja pasta (14oz) or rigatoni or other short pasta tubes
  • 10 fresh tomatoes blanched and peeled (see note)
  • 400 g tomato passata (14oz) or polpa. I used polpa from Mutti
  • 100 g guanciale (pork cheek) (3.5oz) 2 thick slices cut into small cubes or pancetta
  • 100 g soppressata (3.5 oz) or other spicy salami/sausage cut into cubes
  • 150 g caciocavallo Silano (5 oz) or provola, provolone or mozzarella cut into cubes
  • 1 red onion I used a Tropea onion from Calabria. Peeled and chopped
  • 50 g dried porcini (2oz) or 100 g frozen. Dried need to be soaked in warm water.
  • 1 handful pecorino grated
  • 1 handful basil leaves
  • 1-2 tsp peperoncino flakes (red chili pepper) as required
  • 2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil.
  • 1 measure whiskey or brandy
  • salt for pasta and to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper. to taste
Instructions
Preparing the ingredients
  1. If using dried porcini soak them in some warm water for 20-30 minutes before using. Peel and chop the onion. Remove the casing from the soppressata/ sausage, then cut it into cubes, and also cut the guanciale or pancetta into cubes. If using fresh tomatoes, blanch them in boiling water and peel. Cut the peeled tomatoes into quarters and remove most of the seeds. Cut the caciocavallo into small cubes.

Cook your pasta alla Silana
  1. Cook the onion in a little olive oil together with the guanciale, soppressata and  peperoncino flakes until the guanciale fat starts to become translucent. Add the whiskey and let the alcohol evaporate.

  2. When the meats are nice and crispy, add the peeled tomatoes and cook over a moderate heat until they start to soften. Then add the tomato polpa/passata if using.

  3. Put a pot of water on to boil for the pasta. Add salt once it starts to boil and bring to a boil again.

  4. Add the dried porcini mushrooms with their filtered water to the sauce. (Fresh or frozen porcini don’t have any liquid with them) Mix well and add salt and pepper to taste and let the sauce simmer on a low heat while you cook the pasta.

  5. Cook the pasta al dente according to the instructions on the packet. Then drain it. Add the cooked pasta to the sauce. Mix well then add the basil and diced caciocavallo. Let it rest for a minute to melt the caciocavallo.

  6. Serve immediately with the grated pecorino.

Recipe Notes

I like to use a mixture of fresh peeled tomatoes and polpa or passata. However, you can use just peeled tomatoes or just polpa or passata. In which case, increase the quantity of which ever you use. Double the number of tomatoes or use 50% more passata.

I used dried fileja pasta from Bottega di Calabria (see post for more info). You can use other types of short pasta like rigatoni if you don’t have fileja.

If you have leftovers, they are fabulous baked. Just put the leftovers in an oven dish, add more pieces of caciocavallo and a sprinkling of pecorino on top. Bake in a preheated oven (180°c) until the top is crispy.

More recipes from Calabria on The Pasta Project

  1. Fileja Tropeana
  2. Elicoidale with Tropea onions
  3. Long fusilli with pesto Calabrese

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55 Comments

  • Avatar
    Jo
    December 9, 2019 4:17 pm

    I love myself a good traditional pasta dish. And your recipe sounds amazing. I love how simple it is to make and the flavors are amazing here.

  • Avatar
    Jamie
    December 9, 2019 12:34 am

    This made such a wonderful, hearty meal for my family! The guanciale gave this dish so much flavor and I loved reading this history of this dish!

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      December 9, 2019 4:19 am

      Thank you, Jamie! I am thrilled to hear you made this recipe and loved it!

  • Avatar
    Amanda
    December 9, 2019 12:09 am

    Love a hearty pasta dish. This recipe is great!

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      December 9, 2019 4:19 am

      Thank you, Amanda!

  • Avatar
    Kathryn
    December 8, 2019 8:51 pm

    Love the favor combo in this recipe. It looks like such a good cold weather meal!

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      December 9, 2019 4:20 am

      Thank you, Kathryn. I love a good hearty meal in the cooler months too!

  • Avatar
    DJ
    December 8, 2019 10:24 am

    Wow, you know it’s good when you can’t even pronounce the name! Brava! I’ve never had this but a friend recommended so will have to try.

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      December 9, 2019 4:25 am

      Thank you, DJ! The j is pronounced like a y!

  • Avatar
    Lori | The Kitchen Whisperer
    December 8, 2019 6:02 am

    Oh what! What a unique and interesting recipe! It looks so comforting and inviting! Loving the flavor combination!

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      December 9, 2019 4:27 am

      Thank you, Lori! The tastes and texture of the recipe are divine!

  • Avatar
    Amy Dong
    December 7, 2019 10:32 pm

    I love how you used fileja pasta in this wonderful looking recipe! It’s what I’m wanting for Sunday dinners!

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      December 9, 2019 4:28 am

      Thank you, Amy! It’s such a good recipe for a Sunday!

  • Avatar
    Nicole Washington
    December 7, 2019 5:42 am

    Pasta is my weakness. I love the flavors you have in this pasta dish!

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      December 9, 2019 4:28 am

      Loving pasta is never a weakness Nicole!

  • Avatar
    Shelley
    December 6, 2019 4:24 pm

    I learned so much from this post, about a region that I didn’t know much about, a part of the country I haven’t yet visited. And, about ingredients, too – like fileja! (If only Bottega di Calabria would start shipping to America!!) Thank you, not just for sharing this authentic recipe, but for sharing so much wonderful food knowledge to go along with it! Great post!

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      December 9, 2019 4:37 am

      Thank you, Shelley! There will be a few places to get fileja in the US – let me know if you would like some recommendations of where to go!

  • Avatar
    Jere Cassidy
    December 6, 2019 5:45 am

    I have to go to Italy just to eat pasta. You need to put all your recipes in a book because everyone sounds like the most awesome pasta dish.

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      December 9, 2019 4:38 am

      Thank you, Jere! You can recreate a little corner of Italy with each dish, although if you can ever go to Italy, then you must!

  • Avatar
    Cathleen @ A Taste of Madness
    December 6, 2019 4:41 am

    This looks perfect!! I am all about your pasta recipes. I need to give this a go sometime!

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      December 9, 2019 4:39 am

      Thank you, Cathleen!

  • Avatar
    Amanda
    December 6, 2019 2:51 am

    What a delicious meal! With the holidays here, I love serving pasta dishes, so this will definitely be a hit with the family. Thanks for sharing!

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      December 9, 2019 4:39 am

      Absolutely, Amanda! It’s lovely to do something a little different!

  • Avatar
    Denise
    December 5, 2019 10:34 pm

    Your pasta looks so filling and satisfying! What a lovely dish to serve to my family.

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      December 9, 2019 4:42 am

      Thank you, Denise!

  • Avatar
    Danielle
    December 5, 2019 9:39 pm

    If you say it is a typical pasta recipe for the area, then I can’t wait to try them all! Delicious-looking pasta that is certainly a great dish to make in winter.

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      December 9, 2019 4:43 am

      It’s a great goal to want to try them all Danielle!

  • Avatar
    Kelly Anthony
    December 5, 2019 9:02 pm

    I’m going to make this for my husband because he loves a good pasta dish with lots of meat especially pork cheek.

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      December 9, 2019 4:44 am

      I hope he loves it as much as I do Kelly!

  • Avatar
    Constance Smith
    December 5, 2019 2:02 pm

    I absolutely love soppressata, and love how you used it in this dish. Great recipe!

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      December 9, 2019 4:44 am

      Thank you, Constance. I love it too, it’s such a great salami for this dish!

  • Avatar
    Stine Mari
    December 5, 2019 10:33 am

    You really made me want to go to the Sila! All those beautiful mountains and forests. This pasta sounds fabulous, especially with the slightly spicy sausage.

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      December 9, 2019 4:48 am

      La Sila is breathtaking! The pasta recipe is pretty amazing too!

  • Avatar
    LexiBites
    December 4, 2019 4:12 pm

    I love when recipes are made up of ingredients I use everyday. Simple, delicious and pleasing to the palate!
    As an Italian I must say… that looks delicious!!!
    Thanks for sharing Jacqui!
    Lexi

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      December 9, 2019 4:49 am

      Thank you, Lexi! That is a real compliment! And you are so right, simple is beautiful.

  • Avatar
    Pam Greer
    December 1, 2019 5:34 pm

    It’s hard to pick a pasta favorite, we love them all, but this one just might be it! That sausage takes it over the top!

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      December 2, 2019 4:37 am

      It’s a great choice for favorite Pam!

  • Avatar
    Danielle
    December 1, 2019 3:55 pm

    I really like the shape of this pasta – quite a rare find if you ask me. And that peperoncino is something special. Great recipe to make any day of the week.

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      December 2, 2019 4:39 am

      Thank you, Danielle! I hope you try it and love it!

  • Avatar
    Dannii
    December 1, 2019 3:09 pm

    That looks like a delicious pasta dish, with all my favourite flavours.

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      December 2, 2019 4:40 am

      Thank you, Dannii! I hope you try and love it!

  • Avatar
    Paula Montenegro
    December 1, 2019 3:05 pm

    You always post amazingly flavorful pasta recipes! I love anything with porcini. The fact that this sauce also has guanciale and provolone makes it a must-make asap! Thanks for sharing.

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      December 2, 2019 4:41 am

      Thank you, Paula! This recipe is really delicious!

  • Avatar
    Helen
    December 1, 2019 12:02 pm

    I love learning about all the unique regional pasta shapes. Thanks for sharing this recipe!

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      December 2, 2019 4:43 am

      Thank you, Helen! There is always something to learn, and of course it all tastes beautiful too!

  • Avatar
    Julia
    November 29, 2019 5:15 pm

    I wish I was there when you made this dish. Love pasta with tomato-based sauces so I am sure I would love this one!

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      December 2, 2019 4:44 am

      You could recreate this too Julia! Let me know if you do, love to hear how it turns out!

  • Avatar
    Bintu | Recipes From A Pantry
    November 29, 2019 4:22 pm

    Pasta is the ultimate comfort food – this looks like a hearty and filling meal.

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      December 2, 2019 4:45 am

      Thank you, Bintu! Pasta is perfect for every occasion!

  • Avatar
    David
    November 29, 2019 3:10 pm

    The pasta looks delicious and I really enjoyed reading about the background. Sharing!

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      December 2, 2019 4:45 am

      Thank you, David! I love sharing what I learn!

  • Avatar
    Sara
    November 29, 2019 2:49 pm

    This looks like such a great pasta dish to serve. It would impress my husband who is used to my jar of sauce on some noodles kinda pasta for sure!

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      December 2, 2019 4:46 am

      Thank you, Sara! Let us know if you try it!

  • Avatar
    Veena Azmanov
    November 29, 2019 10:21 am

    Delicious and Pasta is one of my family favorite. Awesome combinations and flavors. Definitely my comfort meal too.

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      December 2, 2019 4:47 am

      Thank you, Veena!

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