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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 am happy to give some new pasta shapes a try. What is the best pasta from Southern Italy? I heard about a very fresh sauce made in Sorrento. I would love to visit Southern Italy some year soon. Until then, perhaps I can cook like a southern Italian. What would you suggest as their best regional dish?

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDeb Bigley

I love the new pasta shape. My husband is italian and we cook pasta often. We make our own sauce as the sicilans call it sugo. Is it the same where your from?

July 15, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterjessica rich

My grandfather was from the Calabrian region. Most of my Italian dishes are from my grandmother, but what are the most traditional dishes of Calabria. I'd love to make some and surprise my Dad. Thanks so much!

July 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterApril

Just this week I am back to buying Barilla -- I've missed it while living in Nordic lands this past year. Many of my fave recipes are from the Tuscano region. So... what are the pasta shapes therefrom?

July 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMarsha Paulsen Peters

Thank you for sharing this. I've never paid much attention to pasta until I made my own a few months ago. Its time consuming, fun and a great workout, but boy oh boy, what a great reward afterwards. Fresh homemade pasta is delicious and I appreciate that Barrilla is taking the effort to replicate that. I am definitely going to check out Barrilla the next time I go grocery shopping. Thanks for the chance!!

July 16, 2014 | Unregistered Commentertameka

Barilla is the only pasta to buy. I use it all the time and its always on my shelf in the pantry. There are many shapes to choose from so that gives you the opportunity to try different sauces with different shapes. What is remarkable its tastes great leftover. Just add a little water or stock too what you are reheating. There is never a question what kind of pasta to buy its always Barilla of course!!!!!


July 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLonnie

Hi. What kind of wheat is in the new pasta Thanks

July 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPepe

have been wanting to try Bucatini for years-glad to have the chance now.

July 16, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterjan

I love Barilla pasta, can you tell me where Bucatini originated from the region? I adore it in good Italian restaurants and always oder it..Would love to win this contest, from Mary S. at ciao!

July 16, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermary s.

Thank you Barilla for offering additional pasta shapes. I often have to buy Orecchiette from another brand when I use it for Orecchiette with sausage and broccoli rabe, now I can purchase it from Barilla. The other new pasta shapes look fantastic as well and I look forward to trying them, starting with the Casarecce Pasta with Pesto, Eggplant and Slow Roasted Tomatoes. One shape I have come to really enjoy is Trofie, from Italy's Ligurian region. I had Trofie with Pesto Sauce when we visited my husbands relatives in La Spezia. It is not easy to make and I have never found it in any of the supermarkets or speciality stores where I shop, so if you are thinking of another shape, please consider Trofie.

July 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMary Ann

Are there other herbs beside basil that you use to make versions of pesto that would be considered authentic to Italian cuisine?

July 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCreta

Thanks for the post -- this pasta looks delicious! What's the best way to make a delicious (but not greasy) pasta dish in a spicy oil and garlic sauce?

July 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

Hello and thank you for the beautiful new pasta shapes. Can you give us a traditional recipe to use with the Spaghetti Alla Chitarra? I love the shape!

July 16, 2014 | Unregistered Commenternina

My family and I moved from Celico, provincia di Cosenza, to Chicago when I was 13 years old. The move was exciting and terrifying at the same time. But, as we gathered around the kitchen table every evening for dinner one thing was constant, Barilla pasta per il primo piatto. That simple ritual made my "period of adjustment" easier and less lonely. To this day, I associate Barilla pasta with home.
Thank you!

My mother is an amazing cook, can create a delicious meal in minutes and with only a few ingredients, her secret is 1/2 cup of white wine in most of her dishes.
My question is: how safe is food cooked with wine for children?

July 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAngie

My family has been using Barilla pastas for many many years. They are as great in hot pasta dishes as they are for cold pasta salads. However, we especially love the no-cook lasagna noodles; They are excellent in our vegetarian lasagna recipe. My question: with whole grain pastas being as popular as they are for the added fiber and protein, are these "heavier" noodles actually used much in Italy & are they as tasty fresh as "regular" fresh pastas are?? Thanks!!!

July 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSharita

I love the new pasta shapes. I will definitely have to give them a try. Pretty food always tastes better . . . don't you think?? My question is this, do Italian cooks typically use different kinds of pasta for each recipe, or do they find a favorite and use it for most dishes? Thanks for the giveaway!

July 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRobbin

Lorenzo Boni-
Thank you for the 5 new Barilla pasta shapes!!!
Life is much better with new blue boxes in my cupboard offering more opportunities to "play" with pasta.
Can you please tell me if cooked pasta [undressed of course] needs to be refrigerated overnight?
You see I like to eat Barilla for breakfast and the microwave changes the texture :-)

July 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterChristi terSteeg

Do you add pasta to boiling water or can you start with pasta and water in the pan and bring them to a boil at the same time?

July 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDana

What are the different kinds of basil pestos, and from which regions do they originate? Some use pine nuts, I know, while others use walnuts. Is there a kind without nuts as well?

July 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMK

The new collection of pasta looks great. I can't wait to try it!

July 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLucia

Hi! Love your blog! I know this pasta as strozzapreti. What does casarecce mean? Can't be as fun as priest choker! :-D

July 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMarian

What is a good quick recipe using simple ingredients?

July 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAmy S

I love all the Barilla pasta! My favorite is the carrot flavor bow ties! Can you make more veggie flavor pasta shapes! I like to eat healthy!

July 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterEnid

can I freeze cooked pasta

July 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBetty Campbell

I don't really have a question, but I've been using Barilla pasta for years! I'm really looking forward to trying the new shapes. Would love to see some large flat noodles, like papardelle also. Thanks for the contest!

July 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMary P

I am planning a trip to Tuscany in the fall. What pasta dishes should I be looking for that capture the essence of that region?

July 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKit

What are some recipes that use pasta that are both healthy and flavorful?

July 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJessica F


I was just wondering if Barilla Pasta is made with non GMO wheat.


July 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAnnette

This looks like a wonderful recipe, how would some arugula go with it if blended with the basil and almonds?

July 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKathy Knoop

what makes an italian pizza different than an american pizza?

July 17, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterjessica w

I have ben to Italy several times and one of my favorite shapes of pasta is PICI from the Tuscan region. Would Barilla consider adding that type/shape to it's "collezione?" What would be the most authentic sauce from that area?

July 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLindaM

My husband is from Pavia, Italy. Is there any specific cuisine from this area?

July 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKaren Pavia

We were in Tuscany on our honeymoon last September and went to a little town called Castiglione D'orcia. While there we went to this wonderful trattoria called Trattoria Il Cassero and my husband had the most wonderful pasta with super thick noodles (even thicker than Bucatini). I'm wondering if you might know (with such a vague description) the name of that pasta? Thanks so much!

July 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterGwen Y

What recipes and pasta shapes are typical of the Puglia region? That's where my dad's family is from?

July 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMary Stigliani Gunn

Can you explain how the different thicknesses of the spaghetti match with sauces? Should the thinner types (capellini, spaghettini) be served with thinner sauces and the thicker types with thicker, richer sauces? We do love Barilla products and look for them regularly.

July 20, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDonna

I love your blog! I now have Amazon subscriptions for salt packed capers, bucatini, and orecchiette. It would be great to see Barilla expand their variety!

Here is my question: what principles do you use when deciding what kinds of herbs to toss in fresh with a pasta as opposed to sautéing with olive oil, like you often do with red pepper flakes, onion, garlic, and anchovies? I've done this quite successfully with rosemary, lavender, and sage, but I wanted to know your general thoughts on the subject.


July 20, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel

yum, you can never go wrong with a good pesto pasta! the vegetarians in my household would definitely appreciate me making this dish. thanks for the idea!

Please explain the concept of "to salt or not to salt" the water to boil pasta in and why.

July 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCarlo Marchese

I love barilla pasta, but sometimes I like to make homemade pasta. What sauce would you recommend to really highlight the pasta? Thank you.

July 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

When not making my own pasta I use Barilla and I am looking forward to using these new shapes. My question for you is this- Are there regions that favor poultry dishes? Pork seems to be the main meat all over Italy. Just curious. Thank you

July 22, 2014 | Unregistered

How does Spaghetti alla Chitarra differ from tagliolini or tagliatelle?

July 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJen Leone

What is the reason for the different shapes of pasta? I know that shape holds sauces better in some dimensions than others. Is it just to appreciate the culinary culture of Italy or is there a more scientific culinary depth to it?

July 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBlessie Nelson

We love Barilla pastas! My kids request baked pasta dishes almost every day!

July 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJaclyn Reynolds

This looks so good! I am going to make it for a Sunday family dinner, my question is.........does Barilla offer any type of cooking classes either on-line, or maybe during an in store demo at one of the higher end stores in Chicago? I know quite a few ladies that would love this!

July 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAntoinette Ficaro

My question : I have heard the name "maltagliati" for pasta and I was curious to know if it's the same as saying penne. Thank you and Viva LA pasta.

July 22, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterelvy101

I Love Orecchiette, and I make them with Prosciutto and Peas. Whenever I see them on a menu in a restaurant, it's always with Sausage and Broccoli rabe, and I do not eat Sausage. Can you suggest another recipe with Orecchiette?

July 23, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterValerie F.

I always buy Barilla Pasta and love to experiment with the different shapes and their appropriate sauces. I am traveling to Italy on September 23 to take a week of cooking classes in Tuscany and then on to Rome. (I am drooling already)

July 23, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJudy

I've never used this shape before! Our family LOVES Barilla and all things pasta! I don't usually buy this shape since I don't know what I would make with it, but after reading this, I'm inspired to create something new! I was wondering why isn't there more mini shapes and whether there are some delicious kid-friendly recipes using these? Also I can never create the same sauce as the restaurants, do they have some magic pots and pans? I also would love some suggestions on how to make lunches for my daughters! Thanks for the chance, fab prize!

July 25, 2014 | Unregistered Commentertiffany cheung

Dear Lorenzo Boni,

My family is from Modena, Italy and we have been preparing Bolognese Sauce all of our lives, passing the family recipe down through the generations. Do you prefer to add milk to Bolognese for authenticity or to leave it out. Can you share your favorite way to prepare this class sauce?

Roz Corieri Paige

July 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRoz Corieri Paige

Looks delicious!

July 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBeth

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