Heartily Sicilian Style Pasta


(“Pasta Gustosa alla Siciliana”)


At Joe’s, the focacceria Palermitana on Avenue U in Brooklyn, we cooked only one type of pasta, every day with a different sauce. 
One time we were in the mood of experimenting and we came up with the following delicious recipe; it was well liked by our customers and we started to make it every so often.
Not being a traditional fare we had to come up with a name and among the many options we favored to call it Pasta Gustosa alla Siciliana, Heartily Sicilian Style Pasta.
This pasta is easily made and what will surprise you will be the complexity of the aroma and the taste that derive from so few and simple ingredients.
This dish is enhanced by the aroma of sautéed fennel and the sweetness of the scallions or onions; it is enriched by the delicious and delicate taste of a basil-tomato sauce and garnished with grated caciocavallo or Parmesan cheese. You can use any type of pasta you like: long or short cuts; my preferred cut is penne.

                 Cooking PastaHearty Pasta


Serves 4 to 6




  • 1 lb. Penne
  • 1 can 28 oz. peeled tomatoes
  • ½ onion finely chopped
  • 10 basil leaves
  • 5 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 2 scallions chopped or ¼ small onion chopped
  • ½ fennel (the white base)
  • ½ cup grated caciocavallo or Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste





  • The Sauce

In a 2 quart saucepan, place 3 tablespoons of oil and the ½ onion finely chopped. Sauté over a medium heat until the onion is golden. Squash the peeled tomato with you hands, add to saucepan with the basil, a dash of oregano, salt and pepper to taste.
Bring to a boil, lower the flame and simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. 


                          Tomato Sauce

If you want to remove the seeds and skin from the peeled tomatoes use a vegetable mill. When using vine-ripened fresh tomatoes rinse a few times, squash with your hands, follow above directions and simmer fore 45 minutes.


  • The Fennel

Wash the fennel, dice it finely and keep on the side.  
Over high heat, in a sauté pan, combine 2 tablespoons olive oil and the scallions or the onions. Cook scallions for 3 minutes add the diced fennel, some salt to allow the fennel to release its water and continue cooking at a low heat covered, stirring occasionally. If necessary add a tablespoon of water.
It is ready in 15 to 20 minutes or when tender, soft and pale light golden in color.




  • The Pasta Gustosa

Cook the pasta al dente in an abundant amount of salted water following manufacturer’s recommendation. 
When pasta is cooked, drain and return to the pot. Reserve a cup of cooking water.
On a low flame, toss in the scallions-fennels condiment and the butter. If it is too dry add some of the reserved pasta water. Remove the pot from the heat and mix in half of the cheese.
Pour pasta in a warm large serving bowl, or make individual portions, top with a generous amount of tomato-basil sauce and serve immediately. 
Serve pasta with cheese on the side; place a pepper mill on the table.