Casarecce With Pesto Alla Siciliana
Casarecce (translates literally to homemade) is originally from Sicily, but also very popular in other parts of Southern Italy. Therefore, it makes sense to serve it with a sauce of typically Mediterranean ingredients, such as tomatoes, pine nuts, basil and cheese. Casarecce is typically made of a simple dough of Semola Rimacinata and water. Shaped into a short, wide band, loosely twisted to resemble a scroll which in turn creates an elegant ‘S’ shape with narrow grooves down the middle of the pasta.
454g Cherry Tomatoes, stemmed and washed
50g Sundried Tomatoes
2 Cloves of Garlic, crushed
Small Bunch Thyme
50g Fresh Basil, plus more for Garnishing
50g Pine Nuts
120g Pecorino Romano, ground
150g Ricotta, well drained
Although typically made with fresh, ripe Red Perini Tomatoes, we will be substituting a mix of Italian Sundried Tomatoes and Cherry Tomatoes on the Vine, confit in Olive Oil flavoured with Fresh Thyme to give the dish some warmth and depth.
In a high sided pan, combine the Cherry Tomatoes, Crushed Garlic and Fresh Thyme. Cover with high quality olive oil. Try to use a pan where they will fit snugly to minimize the amount of oil needed. Then set them in a 300* oven for 1 hour. Once tomatoes are cooked and cooled, drain them, reserving the oil.
To combine the pesto, start by pulsing the pine nuts in a food processor, taking care not to crumble them too small, add the confit tomatoes and garlic, and pulse to combine. Add the basil, pulse to combine, finally the Pecorino, Ricotta and a drizzle of the leftover tomato oil.
A key to this Sicilian Pesto is that the ingredients are not blended to a smooth sauce. You can use a food processor to combine the ingredients, with the pulse feature, to obtain a homogenous sauce in which the various ingredients are still perceivable.
Once the pesto is made, this is an exceptionally easy dish to bring together. Simply drop your fresh casarecce into salted boiling water for 3-4 minutes. Drain and combine with the pesto, until heated through, without cooking it. This is to retain the freshness of all the ingredients. Plate and garnish with more Confit Cherry Tomatoes and Fresh Basil.
Add Salt and a pinch of pepper.