A delicious casarecce pasta recipe made with creamy roasted eggplant mixed with a sweet homemade tomato sauce. The combination of sweet and slightly smokey creates a truly irresistible pasta dish that will captivate your taste buds and leave you craving more. An incredible creamy pasta dish to enjoy on weeknight or weekend.
This dish draws inspiration from a classic Italian dish, Pasta alla Norma, which is from Sicily. Instead of frying the eggplants, here they are roasted in the oven giving a smoky and slightly caramelized flavor.
Once the eggplants are nicely roasted, they are blended into a velvety and creamy texture. To finish, they are combined with the tomato sauce, creating a touch of acidity and sweetness that perfectly balances the richness of this casarecce pasta recipe.
Moreover, the casarecce pasta goes well with an infinity of sauce recipe, try them with my creamy burrata and tomato sauce or my ricotta lemon sauce with parsley pesto. If you are looking for a side dish to serve with, try my burrata and arugula salad, a refreshing and tangy recipe perfect to enjoy during hot days. Alternatively, serve the casarecce pasta with a delicious one pot Italian chicken recipe, cooked in a homemade tomato sauce with red peppers until soft and creamy.
What is pasta casarecce?
Casarecce is a kind of short twisted rolled pasta tube made of durum wheat and is super popular back in Italy. It is born in the south of Italy and more precisely in Sicily. The word "casarecce" means in Italian "homemade" and it refers to its rustic shape. Casarecce pasta is typically around 1.5 to 2 inches long and its shape provides a textured surface that helps to hold the sauce, making it an excellent choice for this recipe.
Why you'll love casarecce pasta
Italian flavor - with every bite, you are transported to the heart of Italy. The sweet tomato sauce, eggplant, and basil leaves are stapled ingredients of authentic Italian recipes, which make this casarecce incredibly good.
Vegetarian diet - this dish is completely meat-free and is the perfect dish when you are in search of a vegetarian alternative. It is loaded with delicious veggies, making it perfect for any vegetarian guests.
Feed a crowd - pasta recipes are the perfect dish when you need to feed a large crowd, as they provide a satisfying and fulfilling main dish that can stand on its own. This casarecce is enough for 4 people, however, if you are hosting a larger gathering you can easily double batch the sauce recipe along with the pasta.
You will need six ingredients to prepare the casarecce pasta. Yet, don't underestimate the simplicity of this ingredient list, as it leads to an incredibly delightful recipe.
- Casarecce - opt for a high-quality bronze-cut pasta. These will allow a better hold onto the sauce and ensures a delightful al dente texture.
- Eggplant - choose fresh eggplant with dark skin.
- Tomatoes - my choice is Sicilian datterini. These little bright red horn tomatoes are insanely sweet and they are perfect to use for homemade tomato sauce.
- Oil - use extra virgin olive oil to cook the tomatoes and the eggplants.
- Herb - basil work great in here. Use always fresh herbs instead of dry ones for a better taste.
- Seasoning - use garlic, Maldon salt, and black pepper to enhance the food.
Instructions for casarecce pasta
The steps and the overall recipe are extremely easy and in just 30 minutes it will be ready to eat. To maximize the time I suggest you cook the tomato sauce and the casarecce pasta during the roasting step. Please note that this is just a quick intro. Read the recipe card for the full instructions.
Chop the garlic cloves on a chopping board using a knife and set it aside. Trim the stem of the eggplants on a chopping board using a knife, and discard the stem. Lay the eggplant on its side and carefully slice it into rounds slice. Cut the round eggplant into small cubes and set it aside.
Add the eggplants to the baking tray, spreading them out in a single layer. Add the garlic cloves, oil, and the seasoning. Mix everything together and roast them for 15 minutes until golden.
Place the tomatoes on a chopping board and halve them using a knife. Add the tomatoes, oil, garlic, and fresh basil leaves to a medium frying pan over medium heat. Let them cook and stir occasionally. As the tomatoes start to soften add the salt and gently crush them with a spoon. Let cook the sauce for 2 minutes more. Cook the casarecce pasta in boiling water until al dente.
Set aside some roasted eggplant for decoration. Add the rest of the roasted eggplants, the oil, and the water in a blender. Blend them at high speed for fews seconds until you have a creamy texture. Add the eggplant purée in the tomato sauce, the drained casarecce, the pasta water, and a little grated cheese in a frying pan. Give a good stir until you get a cream sauce. Before serving the pasta, sprinkle the remaining roasted aubergines and some grated cheese. Serve immediately.
Down below, you'll find a few ideas to substitute some ingredients to turn this casarecce pasta into a recipe that would fit most diets.
- Casarecce pasta - in case this format is not available choose from these: penne, fusilli, mezze maniche, paccheri, farfalle, tortiglioni, spaghetti or orecchiette.
- Ricotta salata cheese - use Pecorino Romano as it has the same level of salt. Alternatively use Parmigiano Reggiano.
- Tomatoes - a good alternative to the Sicilian datterini are the small round Pachino tomatoes.
- Eggplant - any variety of eggplant works fine here.
- Dairy free - make it dairy free by removing the ricotta salata.
- Gluten free - instead of wheat casarecce pasta use the gluten-free version.
- Vegan diet - to serve this dish as vegan swap the ricotta salata for a vegan Pecorino Romano or vegan Parmigiano Reggiano.
Here are a few ideas on how to serve the casarecce pasta sauce by adding different ingredients to the recipe.
- Olive - add some olives to the tomato sauce, a few minutes before turning the stove off. Choose pitted taggiasche olives or Kalamata ones.
- Protein - to add an extra layer of salt add some crumbled crispy Parma ham before serving.
- Nuts - add some roasted pine nuts before serving the casarecce pasta. Alternatively, add some almonds to the eggplant purée before blending.
- Eggplants purée - double batch the pure to serve a delicious Mediterranean dip along with some warm pita bread, or focaccia.
Leftover casarecce pasta sauce
Some leftovers can transform a dish into something new, and pasta is one of those recipes. I love the possibility to reuse the leftovers and serve them again without putting much effort into them. This sauce recipe works great to use the leftovers to make a delicious baked casarecce pasta. In case, you don't have any leftovers, keep this recipe idea in mind for the next time you are making this dish.
To prepare the dish, preheat the oven to 200°C / 397°F. Take an oven-safe dish and evenly coat it with a tablespoon of butter. Next, combine the leftover pasta, diced scamorza affumicata, and grated Parmigiano Reggiano in the baking dish. Mix and sprinkle some more grated Parmigiano Reggiano on top. Once the oven is hot bake the casarecce pasta until the cheese is melted and a delightful crust forms on the top. If you can't find the scamorza affumicata use the mozzarella instead.
Use a chopping board and a vegetable knife to halve the tomatoes, to chop the garlic, and to cut the eggplant. A medium frying pan to cook the tomatoes and a kitchen spoon to squash and mix the ingredients. Use a large oven tray to roast the veggies and a blender to create the eggplant purée. To finish, use a tall and large pot to cook the casarecce and a colander to drain it.
Fridge- Store the leftovers in one airtight container, once cooled off, and use within 3 days. Warm up the casarecce pasta sauce in a frying pan, and add some water to cream up the recipe. Heat the dish until hot for a few minutes, and stir occasionally. Once hot serve the dish with some grated ricotta salata.
Freezer- Freeze the leftover casarecce in airtight containers for up to 2 months. Defrost in the fridge 12 hours before and reheat as suggested above.
Top tip for
To create a delicious pasta casarecce follow these easy but important tips.
Eggplant cut - to achieve a uniform roast I suggest you cut the eggplant in an even size.
Don't overcrowd the eggplant - to ensure the right texture, spread the eggplant cubes on a single layer. If needed, work in batches or use two trays to roast the eggplant.
Perfect roast - to achieve a perfect roast and full flavor, bake the eggplant until soft, caramelized, and have a gorgeous golden color. Also, flip them a few times during the baking time to ensure an even cooking.
Cream up - to make the sauce creamy is important to add some pasta water to the sauce. This way you will have a creamy and irresistible casarecce thanks to the natural starch found in the cooking water.
It would be possible that the pasta water wasn't enough. Add gradually the reserved water until you have a creamy texture.
The length of the cooking time varies from brand to brand. For great results cook the casarecce according to the instructions provided on the packaging. If in doubt taste one casarecce and check for a tender but firm bite.
Yes, of course. I would definitely make the eggplant purée in advance and cook the rest when you are ready to serve it.
The traditional casarecce pasta is made from durum wheat which contains gluten. However, there are gluten free alternatives available in the market, look for product with gluten free labeled on the packaging.
Nowadays is very easy to find Italian products everywhere. Look in your local stores, in Italian delis, or in any Italian online shop.
Thanks to their versatile shape they pair well with various sauces and ingredients.
Use them to make some cold pasta salad, with spicy sauce made with Italian sausages, with classic spicy Italian sauce, with a delicious broad or fava bean pesto, or with amatriciana sauce.
Yes of course. Red pepper flakes can add an undertone of spiciness to the sauce. Just be mindful of the amount you use, as pepper flakes can be quite potent. Start with a small pinch, taste the sauce, and adjust according to your desired level of heat.
No, I would definitely follow the recipe. The eggplant roasted in the oven gives a smoky and caramelized flavor that can't be achieved by cooking it with tomato sauce.
More Italian pasta recipes
Looking for other yummy Italian recipes like this? Try these:
These are my favorite dishes to serve with casarecce pasta:
- 1 Chopping board
- 1 Vegetable Knife
- 1 Large oven tray + 1 baking paper
- 1 Medium non-stick frying pan
- 1 Wooden spoon
- 1 Eletric blender
- 537 gr eggplant; about 2 Lb: oz 1: 2.9
- ½ teaspoon Maldon salt
- 7 tablespoon olive oil extra virgin
- 2 garlic clove
- 1 pinch black peper
- 60 ml water room temperature Lb: oz 0: 2.1
- 440 gr Sicilian datterini tomatoes Lb: oz 0: 15.5
- 1 garlic clove
- 2 tablespoon olive oil extra virgin
- ½ Maldon salt
- 6 leaves fresh basil
- 350 gr pasta casarecce Lb: oz 0: 12.3
- 225 ml pasta water Lb: oz 0: 7.9
- 1 hand full ricotta salta cheese or to your liking
- Preheat the oven to 180°c fan or 200°c conventional oven, 392°f, or 6 gas mark. Wash the eggplants, the tomatoes, and the basil leaves under cold running water. Chop the garlic cloves on a chopping board using a knife and set it aside. Trim the stem of the eggplants on a chopping board using a knife, and discard the stem. Lay the eggplant on its side and carefully slice it into rounds slice 1 cm/ 0.39 inch thick. Cut the round eggplant into small cubes and set it aside.
- Take a baking tray and cover it with baking paper to prevent sticking. Add the eggplant cubes to the baking tray, spreading them out in a single layer. Add the garlic cloves to the tray, drizzle 6 tablespoons of oil over the eggplants, and season with salt and black pepper. Mix everything together, and ensuring that the eggplant cubes are well coated with the seasonings. Put the eggplant in the oven and roast them for 15 minutes.
- Place the tomatoes on a chopping board and halve them using a knife. Take a medium frying pan and add the halved tomatoes, oil, garlic, and basil leaves to it. Mix everything together. Set the frying pan on medium heat and let the cook, stirring occasionally.
- After 15 minutes, remove the eggplant from the oven and use a wooden spoon to flip them. Return the eggplant to the oven and allow it to roast for another 10 minutes. As the tomatoes start to soften, add the salt and mix everything. Using the wooden spoon, gently crush the tomatoes to create a sauce-like consistency. Let cook the sauce for 2 minutes, and once ready, set the side. Once the eggplants have achieved a nicely roasted golden color, carefully remove them from the oven and set them aside.
- Set aside 33 gr of roasted eggplant for decoration. Add the rest of the roasted eggplants, 1 tablespoon of oil, and the water in a blender. Blend the eggplants at high speed for fews seconds until you have a creamy texture.
- Bring a large pot with some salted water to boil. Once it starts to boil, add the casarecce pasta and cook for 9 minutes or until al dente. Stir often. In the meantime, add the eggplants pure in the tomato sauce and mix with a wooden spoon until combined.
- Drain the pasta and set aside some pasta water. Turn the stove on medium heat and add the pasta to the sauce, the water, and a little grated cheese in a frying pan. Give a good stir until you get a cream sauce, but not too liquidy.
- Just before serving the pasta, sprinkle the remaining roasted aubergines and some grated cheese. Serve immediately.
Use them to make some cold pasta salad, with spicy sauce made with Italian sausages, with classic spicy Italian sauce, with a delicious broad or fava bean pesto, or with amatriciana sauce. Can I turn this recipe into "one pot casarecce pasta"? No, I would definitely follow the recipe. The eggplant roasted in the oven gives a smoky and caramelized flavor that can't be achieved by cooking it with tomato sauce.