June 2022

Spaghetti alla Siracusana

Serves up to 8 people


2 medium-sized eggplants, about 3/4 pound total
Coarse salt
1/2 cup olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, peeled
1 1/2 pounds ripe fresh tomatoes or 1 1/2 pounds drained canned tomatoes, preferably imported Italian
4 anchovy fillets preserved in oil, drained
2 heaping tablespoons capers in wine vinegar, drained
2 large yellow bell peppers
2 ounces pitted black Greek olives
20 leaves fresh basil, torn into thirds
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound dried spaghetti, preferably imported Italian
Freshly grated Pecorino Romano
Fresh basil leaves


Peel the eggplants and cut them into 1-inch cubes. Place the cubes on a serving dish and sprinkle evenly with about 2 tablespoons of coarse salt. Place a second serving platter over the eggplant as a weight and let rest for at least 1/2 hour. 

Rinse the eggplant cubes under cold running water to remove excess salt and pat them dry with paper towels. Place a casserole with the oil over medium heat. When the oil is warm, add the whole cloves of garlic and sauté until lightly golden all over, about 20 seconds. Discard the garlic and put the eggplant in the casserole to cook for about 15 minutes, stirring every so often with a wooden spoon. 

Meanwhile, if fresh tomatoes are used, cut them into pieces. Pass fresh or canned tomatoes through a food mill, using the disc with the smallest holes, into a  bowl. When eggplant pieces are lightly golden, add the tomatoes and simmer for about 10 minutes. 

Cut anchovies into 1/2-inch strips, rinse capers and cut the peppers lengthwise into less than 1/2-inch strips, discarding stems, seeds and the inner membranes. Rinse peppers very well under cold running water. Add anchovies, capers, peppers and the pitted olives to the casserole, mix very well and look for about 15 minutes, adding some lukewarm water as needed. The sauce should be quite homogeneous. Season with salt and pepper

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of cold water to a boil over medium heat. Add coarse salt to taste, then the pasta and cook it for about 12 minutes or until al dente. 

As the pasta cooks, add the basil to the sauce and taste for salt and pepper, then transfer all the sauce to a casserole large enough to contain all the sauce and the pasta. Add 1 cup of the boiling water from the stockpot with the pasta and set casserole over medium heat. 

Drain pasta, add it to the larger casserole containing all the sauce, mix very well and cook for 20 seconds more. Transfer contents of casserole to a large serving platter and serve hot, sprinkled with grated Pecorino and the basil leaves.

Spaghetti 16x9 ak 170622