Italian Notebook: Oven Baked Anellini Recipe

PHOTO-V.LAVENIA-Baked oven anellini

BY VERONICA LAVENIA

Italian Notebook is a window to Italy, live from Italy. Food recipes, practical advice on how to eat like a true Italian, destinations to discover the treasures of Italian food, and the inside scoop on selecting the best organic seasonal ingredients are all elements of Lavenia’s vibrant column. Photos by Giuseppe Giustolisi, ©Veronica Lavenia

Anellini al forno is a typical Sicilian dish, usually made with meat sauce. I prefer to prepare this delicious meal with a more healthful and sustainable twist, so my recipe is meatless. When in season, this dish is perfect with eggplant or zucchini, but during the winter months you can make it with white sauce (béchamelle), broccoli, cauliflower or other available vegetables.

Oven Baked Anellini Recipe: Serves 4

Ingredients

320 g (0.71 oz) anellini pasta

800 g (1 Ib 12 oz) tomato puree

salt to taste

1 clove garlic

2 eggplants (soaked and dried)

Extra virgin olive oil (for quick frying)

1 teaspoon light brown sugar

3 basil leaves

100 g (½cup) grated ricotta salata cheese (salted ricotta)

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350°
  • 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 EVOO in a frying pan and fry the eggplant. Remove and place on cheese cloth to drain the oil.
  • In another pan, heat oil, then 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 (you want to remove the pasta when it is 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.

ABOUT THE WRITER

I was born and still live in Italy. My mother and my father passed down their love for travel and passion for cooking organic sustainable food to me.

I have a University Degree in Spanish Languages and Literatures and a Phd in Iberian and Ibero-American Languages ​​and Literatures. While I was teaching Spanish at University (Faculty of Economics) and after writing Gianni Clerici’s authorized biography (best Italian Tennis Journalist, Tennis Hall of Fame in 2006),  I began writing about my passion for cooking. My literary education is the essential ingredient for a methodological approach to professional food writing.

My first cookbook “Dolci Leggerezze”, published in Italy, is about homemade dairy and gluten-free cakes and pies. Recipes born out of a personal experience that helped ​​me discover how useful is to share tasty and healthy alternatives, also suitable for those who do not suffer from allergies. Some of my recipes were also published in Italian food magazines.

I believe in the value of home cooking as an instrument of culture, knowledge and education. To cook in a simple, tasty and healthy way you don’t need cooking classes. All you need is passion and curiosity. Knowing the ingredients, their seasonality and origin, means to cook in a conscious way. Knowledge makes all the difference.

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