Each region of Italy will regale you with its own version of Pasta alla Sorrentina, using unique ingredients and flavours which will be typical of that territory. In the Campania region, from whence this dish comes, it would take all four seasons of the year to discover the true range of traditional dishes.
At the Italian table, pasta is presented at what most of understand to be the first course, or ‘primi’. The same is true for gnocchi. It therefore seems natural to take the famous dish of Gnocchi alla Sorrentina and tweak it to create a variation using pasta in place of gnocchi. The sauce for this dish is a combination of full-bodied, fragrant ingredients of tomato, basil and creamy mozzarella.
Pasta alla Sorrentina is a spectacularly simple and succulent dish to be shared with the whole family!
Baked pasta alla Sorrentina – serves 4 – 6
- 500 grams Paccheri (you could also use calamarata, ziti or rigatoni)
- 1 1/2 of 16 oz jars Pasta Nostra San Marzano tomato sauce
- 125 grams Fresh mozzarella, cubed (you could substitute grated mozzarella)
- 30 mls Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 clove Garlic 1
- 1 handful fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
- Fine sea salt
- 65 grams Grated Parmesan cheese
- Begin by preparing the sauce. In a large frying pan over a medium to low heat, pour the oil and add the peeled garlic clove. Fry for 1 minute then add the tomato sauce. Season with salt, add a few leaves of basil and mix.
- At this point cover with the lid and cook for 10 minutes over low heat. When cooked, remove the garlic clove and discard. Meanwhile, bring a large pan of lightly salted water to a boil and cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packaging.
- Once the pasta is cooked to al dente, lift it from the pan and place directly into the sauce. Mix together.
- Set the oven to grill and organize the oven shelf to be about 6 inches below it.
- Pour half of the pasta into an ovenproof baking dish, enough to cover the bottom. Sprinkle this layer with half of the mozzarella and a little Parmesan cheese. Pour over the rest of the pasta and cover with mozzarella and Parmesan as before.
- Place the pasta under the grill for 5 minutes or until the mozzarella has melted and lightly browning.
- Garnish your Pasta alla Sorrentina with the remaining fresh basil and serve immediately.
- If you want to be true to the classic traditional recipe, prepare the sauce with some good quality fresh tomatoes. At the end of cooking, pass the tomatoes through the vegetable mill. If you prefer a more full-bodied sauce with a more intense taste, you can add tomato puree – 1 spoon will suffice.
- For a crisper surface, you can also sprinkle with breadcrumbs.