Pasta ‘Ncasciata

Last week with my parents

My dad and mom during a day trip to Spoleto

The best vacations need some continuation, something to take away;

something to unpack when the missing of those good days is heavy;

something to connect the rhythm and pace of the trip with the patterns and predictability of home;

something more than a souvenir.

The best vacations need to come home.

Last weekend, my parents left Perugia.  The day before their flight, my dad made a request.  He wanted to learn how to cook pasta ‘ncasciata.  This was his favorite meal in Italy, and he wanted it to be his “take-away.”

Pasta ‘ncasciata is a Sicilian specialty given to me by my friend Giulia.  Her family is from the south where eggplants are reportedly the most delicious eggplants in the country.  The name “’ncasciata” is a Sicilian word that may translate to either “cheese” or “pan.”  (There is some disagreement among Sicilians.)  Guilia says that both translations make sense since the pasta is cooked with cheese and baked in a pan.

This is Giulia,

This is Giulia, a keeper of traditional Sicilian recipes and culture

So on the evening of my parents’ last day, we shopped, chopped, fried, simmered and layered until we had made a beautiful pan of pasta.

Begin with the following ingredients.

To make four big servings, begin with the following ingredients:

1 tablespoon of butter for greasing the pan

250 grams (8 ½ ounces) of pasta (macaroni or short penne)

3 tablespoons olive oil plus 2/3  cup

1 clove of garlic, chopped

1/3 diced onion

150 grams (5 ½ ounces) of sausage (remove casing)

150 grams (5 ½  ounces) ground veal

125 grams (4 ½ ounces) of peas, fresh or frozen

½ cup of red wine

500 grams (18 ounces) of purred tomato

125 grams (4 ½ ounces) of fresh ricotta

2 hard boiled eggs, sliced

50 grams (2 ounces) of diced or grated provolone

10 basil leaves

1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese

salt and pepper to taste


1.  Grease an oven-proof pan with the butter

2.  Slice the eggplant lengthwise and sprinkle with salt.  Then let it sit in a colander for 20 minutes so it can release its bitter juices.

cutting the eggplant

My dad cuts the eggplant into thin, even slices.

3.  Sauté the garlic and onion in three tablespoons of olive oil until onions are translucent.

4.  Add the sausage and ground veal and cook. Then add peas. Then wine.  Cook until the wine reduces (about five minutes). Then add the tomato puree.  Simmer slowly for 15-20 minutes.

While I fry the eggplant,

While I fry the eggplant, my mom stirs and my dad pours the tomato sauce

5.  In the meantime, rinse the slices of eggplant and pat dry with a paper towel.  Then fry them in 2/3 cup of olive oil on medium high heat until  golden brown.  Set aside on a plate lined with paper towels.

6.  Cook the pasta for half the time it calls for.  (It will continue cooking later in the oven.)  Drain the pasta.  Add it to the tomato sauce.  Add ricotta and mix well.  Tear the basil into pieces and stir in.

7.  Layer:  Begin with a third of the pasta and tomato sauce.  Cover with half the eggplants.  Add half the provolone and one of the sliced hard-boiled eggs.  Then add a layer of everything one more time saving a third layer of pasta for the top.  Sprinkle with a tablespoon of Parmesan cheese.

layer the pasta

layering the pasta with all the ingredients.

8.  Cook in a 350 degree oven for 1/2 hour or until hot, bubbly and slightly brown on top.  Cool for 10 minutes before serving.



. . . I just got an email from my dad.  The trip home was long.  They are tired.  The transition isn’t easy.  However, the first dinner they made after unpacking their bags was pasta ‘ncasciata.


9 thoughts on “Pasta ‘Ncasciata

  1. im really glad you guys are having such a wonderful time! You and Matt both look so healthy and happy. It really warms my heart to know you seem to be doing better than the last time I saw you. Much love and can’t wait to see you again soon.
    Love Sandra

  2. Dear Jill I have read and enjoyed everyone of your Posts and shared with my 2 friends who love everything Italian! The are both passionate about cooking. One said a month ago that she isn’t sure she can handle your departure from Perugia:-) I am hoping you will be writing a book! Your parents sound (and look) fabulous! Ciao Karen Karen C Sehrer WRE/East, Inc 206-940-2530

  3. Thanks once again for including us in your mailings, Jill. We LOVED the photos of your time with Carol and John!! We have neighbor/friends from Sicilian with whom we are sharing your beautiful words and photos. Now it’s time to cook together using your recipe to guide us!!

  4. I was one of the lucky ones who shared in their homecoming pasta ‘ncasciata and can tell you it was excellent. Perugia (sigh), you are sorely missed.

  5. Yes… the Pasta Ncasciata is fun and wonderful to make not to mention the taste. Now I have my secret weapon pasta dish for entertaining. Love, Grandpa John

  6. Bueno! was my first impulse, but maybe molto buono is more correct! Sounds wonderful and your recipes are a treasure trove.

  7. It’s hard to believe we were really there, with you, in your kitchen, in Perugia! Now, it’s hard to believe we’re not. Every day there is something close to remind me of you and our heavenly time together…..garlic roasting in the kitchen, candle light flickering from the antique candle holder from Arezza, bits of chocolate scattered on a plate, Dad’s pasta in the oven, and always a big bottle of wine, nearly empty. We miss you so much. Thank-you! Love, Mom

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