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Casarecce Pasta with Pesto, Eggplant and Slow Roasted Tomatoes (and a Barilla Pasta Giveaway!)

Did you know there are hundreds of different pasta shapes in Italy?  Each region seems to have a special shape or two which is popular in that area.  Thanks to the good folks at Barilla, you will be able to experience some of these shapes because they are introducing five new pasta shapes with Barilla® "Collezione" pasta. I'm so excited about this line of pastas. And Barilla is even offering a giveaway gift basket for you, which includes each pasta shape plus goodies from Williams Sonoma, to a lucky reader.

There are many pasta shapes that are associated with certain regions of Italy.  On the new Collezione pasta boxes, Barilla has shown you a map of Italy and where that particular pasta is popular.  I love that - it gives you a sense of where that pasta is from.  When we travel in Italy, I'm always amazed at the local preferences for certain shapes. Each region has their special way of making and serving pasta.  These are the five new shapes:

Spaghetti alla Chitarra:   A square shaped spaghetti. The word "chitarra" means guitar and the pasta has this name because of the tool used to make it by hand in the Abruzzo region of Italy - it looks like a guitar.  Barilla's version is a terrific pasta that is just the right width and thickness.  I made a couple of dishes with this new pasta and we all loved it. I'm going to keep this stocked in my pantry.

Gnocchetti: On the island of Sardinia, they make a little pasta shape called "malloreddus".  It actually looks like a tiny gnocchi.  Such a fun little pasta shape and it holds sauce well, too.  My mom and I used to make them by hand but it's a lot of work and time consuming. Now you can buy some from Barilla and enjoy them anytime.

Bucatini:  This is a long pasta shape that you will see on a lot of menus in Rome, which is in the Lazio region of Italy.  It is like a big, thick spaghetti that is hollow.  It is the traditional pasta shape to make Bucatini all' Amatriciana.   Every time I'm in Rome, I have this dish at least once!

Casarecce: This pasta has its origins in Sicily, where my mom was from. The shape is like a twisted little roll.  It's good with pestos and meat sauces.  Or anything.  

Orecchiette:  One of my all time favorite pastas.  These little discs hold chunky sauces perfectly.  They are like tiny little bowls and hold sauce so well.  This pasta has its origins in Puglia, a southern region of Italy.


It's fun to use and experiment with different pasta shapes. The recipe I am sharing with you today uses the Casarecce.  Because this pasta is from Sicily, I thought it fitting to use ingredients that are so popular in Sicilian cooking:  eggplant, tomatoes, capers and basil.

Don't make the common mistake of oversaucing pasta - the pasta is the star of the show!

Not only are these new pasta shapes fun, but Barilla is making them using bronze dies.  When pasta was made by hand in Italy in the old days (and some people still do it this way, of course), the pasta was rolled out onto a wooden pasta board.  The little tiny ridges in the wood made an impression in the pasta and gave it a coarse, rough texture that was perfect for holding sauces well.  When you see machine made pastas made by extruding the dough through bronze dies, they are trying to replicate this rough texture.  I was so glad to see Barilla using this method - bronze die pastas are truly exceptional.

**Barilla is offering a great giveaway to a lucky reader - a variety of Collezione samples, (two boxes of each new shape), a $25 gift card from Williams Sonoma and a Barilla apron or cooking utensiils from Williams Sonoma.  To enter to win, simply leave a comment on this post asking any question about regional Italian cooking or recipes and Barilla's executive chef, Lorenzo Boni, will e-mail you an answer!  A winner will be randomly chosen.**

Giveaway will run Tuesday, July 15th  to Friday, August 8th.  Open to U.S. Residents only, age 18 or over.

Barilla Collezione is available at grocery stores nationwide this July!


Casarecce Pasta with Pesto, Eggplant and Slow Roasted Tomatoes 


for a printer friendly recipe, click here

Don't make a common mistake and overdress pasta.  The star of the show here is the pasta and the sauce should complement it.  The pasta should be thoroughly but not heavily coated with sauce.  You'll enjoy it more that way.

serves 4


  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, about 2 cups
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small to medium eggplant, cut into ½ inch cubes, about 3 cups
  • 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1½ ounce chunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1 ounce raw unroasted almonds (just less than ¼ cup) 
  • 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves, plus more for garnish if desired
  • 8 ounces Barilla® Collezione Casarecce pasta 
  • 1 tablespoons capers packed in salt, rinsed


Preheat oven to 350° F.  Line two rimmed baking pans with heavy duty foil. Lightly spray with cooking spray. Slice cherry tomatoes in half, lengthwise.  Place on one baking sheet, cut side up. Sprinkle with about ¼ teaspoon sea salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper.  On the other sheet, place the eggplant cubes and toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon sea salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper.  Toss thoroughly.  Place the pans in the oven and roast the eggplant for 30 minutes, until soft. Roast the tomatoes for 45 - 50 minutes, until the tomatoes have collapsed and some are crisping at the edges.  

While the vegetables are roasting, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta and make the pesto.  In a food processor, place the chunk of Parmigiano cheese and the almonds and grind until fine.  Add the basil and a pinch of sea salt and pepper and process just a little.  Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil, slowly, in the feed tube and process just until blended.  

Boil the Casarecce pasta for about 10 minutes, until just al dente. Remove the pasta with a strainer to a large bowl (do not get rid of the pasta water).  Add the pesto and toss thoroughly.  It will be thick, so add about ¼ cup of hot pasta water to the pasta and keep tossing, until the pesto loosens up and has thoroughly coated the pasta. Keep adding hot pasta water, just a tablespoon at a time, if you need to.  Add the roasted eggplant, tomatoes and capers and toss gently.  Taste and add more sea salt if desired. Garnish with fresh basil leaves if desired.


This is a sponsored post on behalf of Barilla, however, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive sentiments towards Barilla or their products.

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Reader Comments (169)

I love the new pasta shapes! Could you please tell me which shapes are from Abruzzo? Grazie.

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBree Crocetti

I cook pasta all the time, and my husband loves to put cheese on everything. However, cheese is not supposed to be used with some pasta dishes, such as those with seafood, correct?

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterChristina

I am so excited because Barilla is a great pasta at a reasonable price. Thanks for all the great recipes.

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCarol

We Loved Italy and definitely did notice the difference in dining from Rome to Naples. We're headed back again March of 2015 to repeat the Rome Marathon and explore Florence, Venice and more. I am excited to try the different regions of pasta here.........Can you give me a hint of what I may expect differently in Florence and Venice vs Rome and Naples. WE love it all! THANKS. I can't wait to experiment with these new pasta shapes. One of my favorites in Rome which if I can find in the stores back in MN is the Bucatini. PICK ME! My husband would be so greatful. He could eat noodles every night of the week.

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

My husband loves baked pasta dishes. What pastas (other than lasagna noodles) stand up well when baked with cheese and meat?

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTina

What do you have in Pasta from the West Side of the island of Sicily?

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

We love Barilla pasta and we use it all the time, its the best tasting too!

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNatalie

These new shapes sound great. I'm particularly intrigued by the gnocchetti, I've never seen those.

What do you think is a realistic shelf life for dried pasta? I always have quite a few varieties on hand and never check the expiration date, but occasionally, I've made a box of dried pasta that has been crumbly or tastes a little stale, seems to be past it's prime.

Thanks very much.

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterChris Pearson

What is the pasta used in Calabria?

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCarole

Your recipe looks delicious, I can't wait to try it out. My papa is from Pinerola, and pasta is a big thing in my family, and I would love to know what pastas are the favorite where he came from. Then I can make him some authentic Italian food!!

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterClaire

Buon giorno! Can you tell me why the fusilli in Felitto is different from the fusilli in Salerno? I recently had the pleasure of learning about fusilli in both places. While the tool is the same, the end results are quite different. Thanks!

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterFrances

Are there any authentic Italian recipes that uses pasta in desserts? Something with figs, perhaps? I can't wait to try your Casarecce Pasta with Pesto, Eggplant and Slow Roasted Tomatoes recipe. I can almost taste it just by looking at the picture!

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTerry

Barilla used to make a shape called Castellane but I can't seen to find it any longer and the closest I've found is Campanelle. Do you know where I can find Castellane? I live in the far northern suburbs of NYC.

We're fans of Barilla AND of the Italian Dish - what a match!

When choosing a pasta for a particular sauce, is there a rule for rolled, thicker pastas vs flat or thin pasta?


July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTeri

I would like to have recipes from the Abruzzi region of Italy and the southern area that Bari is in. Do you know of any good web sites that can give me this info?

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMarcye Coogan

My husbands grandparents are from the Abruzzo region (Manoppello) what are some of the regions pasta dishes. psc58 {at}

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPam

Of the 25 different varieties, how many are long like spaghetti and how many are short varieties?

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterjan

I love when Barilla puts out new shapes. Hooray for casarecce!!! Keep 'em coming!

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCarol

What a great post! I love pasta, eggplant and tomatoes...cannot wait to try this! Question; we are going to Positano, Italy in September and what restaurant do I not want to miss? Thank you!!

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTracy Earley

I love the ravioli in Capri. I learned how to make the dough from a wonderful restaurant there, but I never learned the ingredients for the filling. I know it contains a cheese call cacciota, but I cannot seem to find that in the US. Is it available here? Also, can you provide a recipe for the filling?

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNancy

love all pasta's + especially those from Barilla + make all the recipes I can get.

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterpeggy braswell

Should different pastas entertain different sauces? Red or White? Long or short? I love pasta and I LOVE to cook and I am always looking to try different recipes! Thank you for your recipes!

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRegina

Will Barilla make more whole grain pasta shapes?

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNancy

I have been teaching my grand-daughters the joy of making pasta from scratch. When there is no time which happens often the pasta I use is Barilla there is no other pasta that compare to Barilla.

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterElaine Della Ratta

I like Chitarra, Bucatini, and Orecchiette. I'd like to try out the other shapes, too. Will the new pasta collezione be made available for only a limited time, or will they be permanent?

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJoAnn Cola

What are the different types of sea salt used for? What is the difference between sea and kosher salts?
I have made many of the dishes from The Italian Dish, and have loved every one of them, easy to follow and the pictures are wonderful.

Thank You

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJulie Curtis

Barilla is my favorite paste - love the new shapes. Wondering where I can order Italian fine flour to make pasta or pizza? Thanks for the chance to win.

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJudi

Yummmm!!! What pasta shape is from the Reggio Calabria area??

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDenee

I love finding unique pasta shapes at the store. I will definitely keep an eye out for these (as well as try that fantastic recipe). What is the one region you would recommend visiting for a classic Italian food experience?

Is there a whole wheat casarecce pasta? I would like to use it in a vegetarian cold salad. Your recipe looks yummy. I am looking forward to trying it. P.S. my toy poodles love your pasta they always are waiting for it on pasta nite.

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermelody

I love this blog and I love Italian cuisine. Barilla is the only brand of pasta that I buy. Its quality is excellent! I was always wondering what region of Italy lasagna comes from. Thanks a bunch!!!

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLana

When we were in Rome 2 years ago I had bucatini all'amatriciana for the first time and loved it. It looks like the collezione might be an ok substitute for the bucatini when I can't find the bucatini.


July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCarole Berard

Love Barilla pasta, when will I be able to find the Bucstini in my local grocery store?

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterConcetta

I've tried forever to learn to make cacio e pepe the way we have had it in Rome. I always get a clump of the pecorino and never the creamy sauce. Do you have a foolproof recipe?

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMarsha

I make pasta for dinner a few times per week so when I saw Barilla's new Collezione Casarecce pasta in the grocery store I picked it up right away. It's unique shape appealed to me. I was happy to see your delicious, light recipe to use along with it!

My question is: I would like to know what pasta shapes have originated in the Basilicata region of Italy? This is where my grandfather came from and I think it would be a nice tribute to use it in dishes for our family reunion. Thank you!

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJeanie Coringrato

I've seen pesto made with different types of nuts - pine nuts, walnuts and almonds primarily. What is most common im traditional italian cooking?

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMitzi

When I was in Italy I was introduced to arrabbiata sauce. What is the best pasta to use with that sauce?
What is the pasta most used in the Messina area of Sicily?

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAnita

Barilla has always been my pasta of choice. There is a great range of products to choose from. Do the new shapes come in whole wheat?

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLynn Burke

Greetings, one of my favorite dishes is home made pesto with grilled chicken mixed with Barilla omega 3 Farfalle pasta. What region does Farfalle originate from?

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

I am so excited about this new collection! I am going to the store today to see if they have them yet! Barilla pasta is my favorite! I met a chef from Barilla at the NYC Food & Wine festival a few years ago and I make the dish he made for us all the time! Oven roasted tomatoes, rigatoni, sausage and rapini!

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJacqueline Sheppard

I'm headed to Siena in August to study la bella lingua. Are there are local specialities I should seek out during my stay?

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJanet Chiarella

Thank goodness Barilla is putting out bucatini. I have to drive all over town to try and find it. We love Midnight Bucatini and this would help tremendously. Your recipe looks delicious. I'll have to give it a try. Thanks for sharing.

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterVickie

I have no special question. I love pasta, and buy Barilla most of the time.

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJune

I lugged Barilla pasta from Venice to Alabama to give to my 6 best friends (along with sundried tomatoes and spices). I love getting Barilla here in the states, of course, but just liked the idea of bringing it from my first trip to Italy. I've noticed that this recipe uses unpeeled eggplant. I've always thought the eggplant peeling was bitter. Does this method remove the bitterness?

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDonna Oliphint

Have always loved Barilla products and it's always so fun to try new shapes to surprise my family.
Great give way......always love your posts. Warmly,Carol

I love using different pasta shapes. Is there a special shaped pasta from the Mache Region?
I will be on the look out for these new pastas from Barilla!

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterGloria Moancelli

I recently had a delicious pasta made from hazelnut flour that my friend lugged back from her trip to Italy. I've tried searching for it online and even considered making it myself. Do you know where in Italy this pasta comes from and where I might buy it in the US? Thanks!

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLaura M

Thanks Barilla and the Italian Dish for educating American cooks in all things pasta! You are opening up the world of Italian cooking for everyone to enjoy!

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMaryo

My grandparents came from Corfino a small village in the Garfenana (sp?) mountains above Lucca. My father ways said the pasta his mom made were plain squares of pasta. Do you know of any other shapes from there and and typical pasta sauces? Thank you so much.

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterGinger

My grandparents came from Corfino a small village in the Garfenana (sp?) mountains above Lucca. My father ways said the pasta his mom made were plain squares of pasta. Do you know of any other shapes from there and and typical pasta sauces? Thank you so much.

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterGinger

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