Italy has more than 2,000 recognized pasta shapes so I’m somewhat accustomed to discovering new ones. Sometimes I find myself at a loss as to what to do with them. Recently I came across “ricciarelle” a flat pasta about an inch wide with a curled edge (“riccio”, the stem word refers to the curl). This pasta comes from Sicily in the Salerno area. What I decided to do was turn it into lasagne. The pasta is about a foot and a half long so you need to break it into workable pieces. Then you line your casserole with short and long pieces in a lattice of layers (as illustrated). You will boil it. The no boil stuff is insipid. This particular recipe is meatless but if you would like to add a layer of hot Italian sausage I wouldn’t discourage you. The sauce can be made a day ahead and refrigerated. Recommended tools include cheese cloth, a cheese wire, and scissors. —pierino
4 or more
ricciarelle pasta (dry weight) or more depending on how many layers you want to build. You can substitute another pasta form if you need to.
extra virgin olive oil (or more as needed)
(24 ounces) tomato puree. Preferrably Italian “passata” style which is looser than American.
cloves of garlic chopped
hot pepper flakes
fresh basil leaves
large slices of roasted red pepper, either jarred or flame roasted at home
pecorino cheese grated
or more thin slices of fresh mozzarella (not the low moisture stuff)
In a sauté pan warm up some olive oil and color your chopped garlic. Add hot pepper flakes. Follow that with the tomatoes and bring to a simmer. While that’s going on give your basil a rough chop and then tie it up in cheese cloth like a bouquet garnie. Poach that in the simmering sauce for about 30 to 40 minutes. Remove the bouquet.
In your biggest kettle bring salted water to a boil and cook your pasta for about 10 minutes until al dente. Drain.
While the pasta is cooling down lube your baking dish with olive oil (no béchamel in this southern style lasagne).
Put down your first lattice layer. This is where the scissors come in because you will need shorter and longer strips to fit your casserole. Arrange lengthwise strips followed by width wise strips. Ladle some sauce over. On top of that arrange your roasted peppers. Sprinkle that with a generous amount of pecorino.
Lattice another layer. Add more sauce and pecorino. Finish with a final layer topped with sauce and fresh mozza slices.
Pre-heat your oven to 375F. Place the assembled lasagna in the oven and cook for 35 to 45 minutes. It should be bubbling around the edges and the mozza should be lightly browned. Allow to rest for 15 minutes because it will be sizzling hot inside. Slice and serve.
Note to cook: as indicated in the headnote you can add more layers to your own pleasure but you will then need to cook more tomato.
Standup commis flâneur, and food historian. Pierino's background is in Italian and Spanish cooking but of late he's focused on frozen desserts. He is now finishing his cookbook, MALAVIDA! Can it get worse? Yes, it can. Visit the Malavida Brass Knuckle cooking page at Facebook and your posts are welcome there.