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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)

Is there any reason why I couldn't substitute regular tomatoes for the cherry tomatoes in this recipe? I just don't like the feel of cherry or grape tomatoes in my mouth. I'm sure that's weird, but it's the truth!

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDelB

Why the use of almonds (instead of pignoli) in the pesto? Is basil pesto made only in Genoa, or are their regional variations on pesto? Are almonds used as the nut of choice when making pesto in Sicily? Thanks!

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJessica

I understand that the North of Italy is known for their cream pasta recipes because they are rich in dairy products with plenty of cows to give them a healthy supply of milk. The South of Italy, on the other hand, is known for their oil pasta recipes, because of all the olive trees. Is that correct?

BTW I come from an Italian family full of great cooks and Barilla is the only pasta I use. Thanks for making it available!

We've always preferred Barilla pasta & were happy to find it when shopping in my daughter's little grocery store in the heart of Florence during her semester abroad in Italy. Which pasta shapes do you recommend for vinagerette dressings in cold salads?

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterStephanie

What about trofie? Is that only found in Genoa?

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNina

My mother came from Barra, i grew up eating all kinds of pasta,
i would like to try the cassarece pasta.

Thank you, Tom

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTom

My parents came from a village in Abruzzo called Colle. Her family to this day raise sheep, lots of sheep. My uncle used to send us packages of their homemade salami and sheep cheese. Can't do this anymore of course. But the pasta was always homemade by my mother. She would make "strenghe'", or "fettucine" and of course ravioli. But my favorite since she is gone now, is Barilla's tubettini, ditalini, and orrechiete. I do wish they made a fat spaghetti that is long and as large round as a pencil. I can only get this from an italian store which is not close to me. I continue to use Barilla pasta however. What are they using in Abruzzo now, even in Montereale which is close to Colle? Thank You.....

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLaura Rotondo

What sauce do you recommend for spaghetti alla chittara? Looking forward to the new pastas!

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJane

I remember having a pasta when I was in southern Italy that loosely translated to "priest strangler". I would love to be able to find something like that in the US. Any suggestions?



July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKeena Mc

family from sara pedace..what form is favored in that region? would love you to explore that region sometime.

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered Commenteranthony yazzolino

I love cacio e pepe... from which part of Italy does this originate, and which cheese and pasta are the best for this dish? Can you change up the pasta without compromising the taste? Thanks in advance.

I love the Italian Dish blog, and the Italian Dish Knits blog... keep up the great work!

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterkaren galván

My grandmother's family was from Val D'Aosta. Is pasta eaten regularly there and if so, what type and sauce?

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCassie

We raise beef - from conception to butcher! What is your favorite beef-based dish, what cut do you use and why do you like it? Thanks for your time!

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDeb

I love Italian cooking but am not very familiar with how Sicilian cooking differs from other regions of Italy. What are the most commonly used types of fish in Sicilian cooking, and what would be some good ways to prepare them in a Sicilian style? Online, I saw something mentioned about swordfish, which I love to grill!

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMegan

Dear Chef Lorenzo Boni, What is YOUR favorite pasta dish? Is there one you make that everybody just loves? I'm always curious to know what chef's are making for their friends and family. Grazie!

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDonna A.

Every Christmas Eve I make cioppino for my family. We all love it, but I'd like to make a heartier version so we are all satisfied at the end of the meal. Would any particular pasta serve me well in my cioppino?

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterGabrielle

I just got back from Casseta, SI (in Tuscany)- Chianti country! My father-in-law led US Troops during WW2 to recapture that town from the Germans and we went with him to revisit!! We had so many delicious pasta dishes!! How are these dried pastas different from the fresh? Is there a noticible difference when used in recipes?? Thanks.

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSharon

Recipe sounds great! Can't wait to try it.

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHeather

Yay! I am really excited to hear that Barilla will be offering these new shapes. Barilla is my go-to brand for pasta after seeing grocery stores in Italy offering it - if it's good enough for Italians, it's good enough for me! Question: Is there a particular shape of pasta that Sicily is known for?


July 15, 2014 | Unregistered Commenteralissa@33shadesofgreen

We love Barilla pasta and are very excited about the new types coming out. Thanks!

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLynda

My husband spent childhood summers in Sorrento. What is a pasta dish that would be popular for this region? I'd love to make him something that takes him back to those boyhood summers!

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJessica

I am thrilled with the possibilities of the new shapes. I remember my excitement when I discovered Orecchiette on a trip to Italy before it hit the shelves in the US. I particularly like the difference in consistencies of the different shapes. What types of sauce do you recommend with the new shapes? i.e. cream, tomato, olive oil with?? etc.

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAnthony I

I hope these new Barilla pasta offerings will be permanent! I love pasta!

Someone's question about pasta made with hazelnut flour reminded me that I've  heard/read of pasta made with chestnut flour.   How do the different flours affect the taste of the pasta?  Or would it just affect the texture?

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCarmen


July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBOLDNTRUE

I'm so excited about the new Barilla shapes, especially the Bucatini!

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJudy F.

while traveling in Italy I never saw any of these shaped pastas...even in the specialty shops. Have they been "designed" particularly to appeal to the American market? We look forward to trying them soon!

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterannemarie edmundowicz

Love the collection! I had a pasta once in Italy where the translation of the name was "twist the priest's neck" Can you tell me what that was and what region it originated in?

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDiana

My mother's family was from Palermo, Sicily. She always put cinnamon in her spaghetti sauce. Does Chef have an explanation for this addition? My mom passed away in 2009, or else I would be asking her!

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRenee Carey

Chef Boni,
Love your pasta and the recipe sounds great; and will be trying it; but my question is this: Do you personally recommend salting the pasta water and/or adding a small amount of oil to the water as well? Different opinions about this but would like yours!

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKevin Sayre

How do you make sure the sauces are not too heavy and are very tasty and light. Which type of sauce os good for pasta?

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered Commentersharon

I am excited about the new pasta shapes!! What a fun way to learn a little italian culture.

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJackie


could you post a typical Sardinian pasta recipe

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTina Mcleod

I love Barilla pasta… it seems to always come out perfect! My grandmother was from the Marche region. What pasta is native to that area?

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSue

Do you have any suggestions for recipes using the new Gnocchetti pasta shape....preferably without meat please. Thanks very much.

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCarol marino

My husband's family is Sicilian from Palermo. Are there any regional pasta specialty dishes from their home town?

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJan Agri

I can't wait to try the spaghetti alla Chittara. My children have always loved all things pasta and adding vegetables like in this Casarecce Pasta is a great way to get them to eat vegetables too!! Can you suggest any other recipes that incorporate vegetables in pasta? Thanks!!

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAnne Marie

My husband's family is Sicilian from Palermo. Are there any regional pasta specialty dishes from their home town?

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJan Agri

My seven-year-old grandsons are huge fans of pasta. They always seem to end up with a plate full of sauce left. Which of your pasta shapes would hold the sauce better, or which sauces would cling to the pasta , so they can enjoy the flavors together. Thank you

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBarbara Bradford

My hubby just made us homemade mac n' cheese for dinner and it made me wonder if there is a classic Italian version of mac n' cheese. What types of pasta and cheese are recommended?

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSarah H.P.

instead of eggplant can i use Zuccini also have you used it whit other Pastas

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterangelika

I recently learned about the dish timballo. Do you have a good authentic recipe for this? Thanks.

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHeather C.

If I use fresh basil instead of dried, how should I adjust my proportions?

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered Commentersharon

What kinds of dishes do you recommend making with Bucatini? Also, what is Bucatini all' Amatriciana? Barilla is my favorite pasta to buy with all the different shapes. I like the orecchiette, but sometimes I have a hard time finding it.

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDoreen

When my mom made gnocchi, she used a certain kind of cheese. It was not parmesan or romano or locatelle. It had a heavy, pungent taste and perfectly complimented the gnocchi. It must have been a hard cheese because she sprinkled it on the gnocchi. Neither of my sisters or I can remember the name of this cheese. Although we're Calabrese, my mom seemed to do a lot of Sicilian cooking. She was an excellent cook, my mom! Can you help with the name of this cheese? Thank you! Caio!

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterToni

I love bigoli, and when in Vicenza, it is a must. My uncle has the special machine to make it and we gave it a whirl last year. So much fun...and so delicious with my special bolognese sauce! I look forward to trying all the new varieties of pasta from Barilla...Also toured the factory here in Avon, NY. Thank you.

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRoseanna

I use linguine a lot. I actually mix half of the whole grain with half of the regular white. This is a way to sneak in the whole grain w/o the fam noticing. I would love to try doing this with other shapes esp. orzo. Would Barilla consider adding more whole grain shapes to their collection?

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered Commenternicole

What does the pasta water do to the dish? Why put it in?

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLinda

What are the most popular pasta dishes in Northern Calabria? My family is from Alessandria del Carretto in the Pollino Mountains which divided Calabria from Basilicata.

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDiane P.

Love the introduction of the new Barilla Collezione Pasta. I can't wait to try them. Will you be publishing pasta recipes of the regions on the new boxes?

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSondra

I could eat pasta every day ! Love Barilla and I'm sorry that we did not stop in when we drove by after leaving Lake Como heading for Tuscany ! Very excited to see new pasta shapes !
My question for you would have to be what is YOUR favorite pasta and sauce recipe ?? And of course the recipe !!
One can never have to many pasta recipes ! Thanks !!!

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKaren Spadaccini

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