A traditional Sicilian dish reinvented to be vegetarian and include seasonal produce.
photo by G. Giustolisi
Anellini al forno is a typical Sicilian dish, usually made with meat sauce. I prepared this luscious meal with a meatless twist. When in season, this dish is perfect with eggplant or zucchini, but during the winter months you can make it with white sauce (a béchamel) and any available vegetables.
- 320 g (11¾ ounces) anellini pasta
- 900 g (2 Ib) tomato puree
- salt to taste
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 eggplants (soaked and dried)
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp light brown sugar
- 3 basil leaves
- 100 g (3½ oz) grated ricotta salata cheese (optional)
- Preheat oven to 180°C (350° F/gas 4).
- Wash and slice the eggplant and let rest in salted water for 30 minutes. Remove eggplant and let dry on paper towels for approximately two hours.
- Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the eggplant. Remove and place on cheese cloth to drain the oil.
- In another pan, heat the oil and brown the garlic for 5 minutes.
- Remove the garlic, pour in the tomato sauce, season with salt, add basil leaves and brown sugar to remove the acidity, and simmer until sauce is reduced.
- Cook pasta in boiling salted water till al dente, or firm.)
- Arrange the eggplant, covering all sides of the pan.
- Once cooked and drained, mix pasta with half of the sauce, then pour a layer of pasta and a layer of tomato sauce over the first layer of eggplant. Continue with a second layer of pasta to almost fill the pan. Cover with eggplant and a layer of tomato sauce.
- Bake in oven for 30 minutes.
- Sprinkle with grated ricotta salata cheese (salted ricotta). Serve warm.