Baked Pasta Aragona Style
The township of Aragona is situated about 10 miles north of Agrigento, between the Platani and Salso
Agriculture and craftsmanship are the primary area’s economical
The county of Aragona was founded in 1606 by Baldassare III, Count of Comiso: Aragona was his mother’s
The town became a commercial center for the production and trade of sulfur,
extracted in an extended nearby area and for agricultural produces farmed in the county where the land is rich
of minerals and water.
Since the closing of all the sulfur mines, the economy is limited to farming and
This small town is rich with works of art, beautiful churches, princely buildings,
picturesque panoramas, and the “Maccalube”.
The Reserve Maccalube is a small hill
outside the town, where the scenery resembles a lunar landscape, full of numerous geysers expelling cold water,
clay and methane.
The name, from the Arabic language, means “continuous changing” and in fact
volcanoes are forming endlessly and water and mud puddles disappear, replaced by little new “volcanoes” from 2
to 6 feet high, changing the view all the time.
However this town is famous for a pasta dish, The Tegame D’Aragona, Baked Pasta Aragonian Style, which is a noble and
distant cousin of the baked ziti Sicilian style. This specialty is often prepared for the Easter
The classic cut used are the rigatoni,
meaning grooved,so more sauce will attach to the pasta or the mezzemaniche, a short version of the rigatoni; but if not available, penne
rigate is a good substitute.
This recipe calls for “tuma”
which is a young sheep’s milk cheese. If it is not available, substitute with “primosale” or unsalted diced
mozzarella or with
MAKES 4 to 6 SERVINGS
For the Sauce
- · 3 tablespoons of olive oil
- · 1 large onion, minced
- · ¾ lb. ground beef
- · ½ glass of white wine
- · 1 can (12 oz.) tomato paste
- · 1 cup chopped peeled tomatoes
- · 1 tablespoon of chopped parsley
- · 1pinch of cinnamon (optional)
- · ½ lb. fresh or frozen peas
- · Salt and pepper to taste
- · 1 lb. Rigatoni
- · 3 eggs
- · ½ lb. diced tuma or any other mild soft cheese
- · 1 cup grated cheese
- · 2 tablespoons of oil to coat the pan
- · ¼ lb breadcrumbs for coating
- · 1 round pan non stick 9 ¾ “spring form
In a 6 quarts sauce pot, over a medium heat, combine the olive oil and the onion; cook until onion is light golden
Add the ground beef, stir continuously until it begins to brown, use a wooden spoon to mash any clumps of
meat. Add the wine and cook a few minutes to evaporate the alcohol.
Dilute the tomato paste with 2 cups of water and stir it into the meat. Mix in the peeled tomatoes,
the parsley and ½ teaspoon of salt.
Sauce should be a little watery, if necessary add additional water to cover the meat.
Lower the flame and simmer for 50 minutes. Add peas, cinnamon (optional), salt and pepper to taste and
continue cooking for an additional 10 minutes.
Let it rest a few minutes, then
skim off any excessive fat and set the sauce aside.
You can make the sauce a day
ahead and keep refrigerated.
In a large pot filled with an abundant amount of salted water, cook the pasta al dente, reducing the recommended
cooking time by 4 minutes.
In a large bowl beat the eggs,
add ½ of the grated cheese and a little salt and pepper.
Grease the mold or pan with
olive oil and coat with breadcrumbs.
When the pasta is ready, drain
pasta and add to bowl with eggs.
Toss and quickly mix
thoroughly, until pasta is well coated.
Pour a few tablespoons of sauce at bottom of the pan
and make the first layer, using about one third of pasta; cover with 1/3 of the remaining sauce, top it with
some tuma and sprinkle with grated cheese.
Build a second and a third layer and when you finish, top with remaining sauce, tuma and sprinkle with the left
over breadcrumbs and cheese.
Bake at 400 degrees for
25 to 30 minutes. A golden crust will appear to let you know that the “tianu” is ready.
Let it stand for 5
minutes before carefully reversing the “Tiano D’Aragona” into a serving dish.
A perfect compliment to
this dish is a Californian Napa Valley Merlot wine pleasant, smooth and with flavors of plums and cherries, or a
bottle of Sicilian Don Antonio Morgante Nero di Avola, produced in the nearby hills of Aragona: both are ideal
matches to this superb first course.