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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)

Not really a regional question. I was wondering how to tell what pasta to use with what sauce?

July 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterConstance

I lived in Italy with my family for about 12 years and am hooked on anything BARILLA. But, being of Abruzzese parentage I long to find any Spaghetti alla Chittara here in the US. Will the new BARILLA line offer that specific product ? If so I will welcome the addition as a staple in my household as will my children and their families...Grazie....pj

July 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Jerome

Barilla is the only brand I buy, it is much like home-made. I learned how to make pasta years and years ago from my Grandmother. We eat pasta at least twice a week. I am looking forward to trying these new shapes.

July 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMaryAnn

How many pounds of pasta does Barilla make every day? I could eat past every day and be completely happy.

July 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDenise

Please settle an ongoing pasta debate in my house. My husband adds olive oil to the water when he cooks pasta, arguing that his Italian cousin tells him that's the only way to cook it. On the other hand, my Italian friend wouldn't be caught dead putting oil in her pasta water. What's the right way, with or without oil?

July 27, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCheryl

I love, love pasta with Pesto sauce - are there more economical Pesto recipes rather than Basil & Pine nuts? I don't always have a large amounts of basil and pine nuts are quite pricey. Also, can you freeze Pesto with the cheese in it?

July 27, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKaren Sue

I love the pasta Barilla makes, and will be sure to keep an eye out for the new pastas. I really like this bog, and try to check it regularly, so as not to miss out on the new recipes. Food is a great way to "visit" other cultures without actually traveling there. Not that I don't like to travel, but it isn't always possible.

July 28, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRose G

I buy mostly Barilla pastas already, so I'm always happy to see some new-to-me shapes. I grew up with Florentine-style Italian cooking, and I love the spinach. I'm curious if spinach pasta is regional to Florence, as well, or if it's a type of pasta dough that's used everywhere for the various shapes.

I used to be able to buy leaf-shaped pasta from Italy, which was, of course, green made with spinach and an herb, I believe. The importer I used says he can't get it anymore, so, I'm wondering if I should be looking specifically for Florentine pastas or is it hopeless? How about Barilla making them? ;)

Thanks for your info and thanks, Elaine, for this great recipe. Another winner!

July 29, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterbeejay

Would love to try different pastas -- from the south and learing new, healthier ways of cooking - any great ideas for pasta side dishes - not as main course? Trying to lighten up the caloric load with the southern items -- Love pasta dishes as salads - haven't tried different pastas- would love too!

July 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

My great-grandparents came to the states from Vasto, Italy and I would love to know more about what their frequent dishes would have been. What kind of dishes (pasta or otherwise), or local ingredients is that area know for?
**Apologies if this double posts - I didn't see it come up after my first posting so I want to make sure you get it!

July 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAubrey D.

Good news about the new pasta shapes. I'm excited to give them a try. I'm curious if there are any regional pastas made with part buckwheat flour? Or other interesting ingredients such as ground nuts or different grains?

July 31, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKathy

New pasta shapes are always exciting especially for kids it comes as a new twist in same old recipe. My 5 year old son is in love with gnocchetti and founds them utter interesting ( ( don't know whether he finds it delicious too :D ).
Looking forward to new pastas from Barilla :)

August 2, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAnna_PMorgan!

These responses must be fictional or highly edited. That Barilla pasta, considering the recent insensitive comments made by its CEO, should be praised to the heavens with nary a caveat hardly represents any kind of reflection of how just about anyone feels about this company. Most people I know go out of their way to avoid this product...particularly, I would imagine, those persons who might would follow your blog.

August 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMichael Penny

From The Italian Dish:

Michael: Actually, I haven't edited one single comment.

August 3, 2014 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

I love so much pasta Barilla most of time.. there's a wide range of product to choose from. Brilliant!

August 5, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTim

Many thanks for the recipe and good news. I was wondering what pasta shapes would be considered typical in Toscana, and especially in and around Siena. Keep up the good work!

August 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHolger

I have heard some people call the sauce gravy and vice versa. What is the reason that some people call it gravy and others don't?

May 27, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSusan

Love this entire article and learning about different pasta shapes! I would love an authentic recipe for bolognese!!? (Bummed I missed your contest by 2days.)😓🍝🍷

August 11, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterShirley Hill

From The Italian Dish:

Shirley: You can find a recipe for bolognese on my blog - just put in the word "bolognese" in the search box (in the middle column) and you will find it. Hope this helps.

August 14, 2017 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

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