The Tianu d’Aragona or Sicilian style Baked Ziti. This specialty is often prepared for the Easter dinner.
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 fresh Provoletta.
Servings: to 4 to 6
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
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon of chopped parsley
- 1pinch of cinnamon (optional)
- ½ lb. fresh or frozen peas
- 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 in color.
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.
The Tianu d’Aragona
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.