This is a funny story of a funny name.
This looks like lasagne but in reality is called IL PASTICCIO!
Second because in the past, during the II World War, our grannies used to add any ingredients available in the fridge. So that’s why they named it pasticcio which means potpourri.
It used to be only a Sunday meal; it had to be heavy to satisfy all the hungry mouths of the family with one portion.
And now my funny hate to love story with ‘Il Pasticcio’.
Going back in my early years, I was a bit silly, because of its name, I didn’t eat Il Pasticcio until I was 15 years old, I think. You might be asking yourself how is this possible? The simple answer was that I thought my mum was making an awesome meal with leftovers or random ingredients she had in the fridge. So if she was messing around with the food it couldn’t be a nice dish. That’s what I thought for years! Unbelievable isn’t it? My mum tried so many ways to tell me that it wasn’t a mix of rubbish but I was convinced that it wasn’t true.
One day, something changed in my crazy mind; maybe because I was so hungry and there wasn’t anything else on the table, I agreed to have a bite of it.
OMG!!! It was amazing! So delicious that I ate 3 slices it was the best combination of ingredients in one unique dish. So fulfilling and balanced in flavour that I told mum that I was such a fool for not believing her. –My mums answer was a simple but effective Italian say: “I told you so.”
After so many years I still can’t believe what I’ve missed. Well, since that day I tried to make it up and have Il Pasticcio every Sunday meal, plus eating leftovers for lunch during the week.
After this episode I went to my nana and took cooking lessons. My scope was to be able to make one myself and tell mum that I was sorry for no believing in her and her yummy pasticcio. So I’ve learnt to make the traditional recipe first, with homemade fresh pasta layers. Such an art guys! A bit difficult at the beginning and every time comes out differently but the fresh past is what makes it different and special.
It’s a bit laborious as a dish. You have to prepare the fresh pasta and let it dry first. Prepare the ragù. Then cook the mushrooms in a frying pan. Make the besciamella sauce. Slice the prosciutto cotto and cut the mozzarella in chunks.
When all the ingredients are ready you can start layering up in an oven proof dish. Start with one sheet of pasta, add the ragù, the besciamella, top with prosciutto slices, add the mushrooms and mozzarella pieces; repeat all over again until the dish is full. Usually 3 layers are enough. Put the dish in the preheated oven at 180 degrees and cook for 1 hour.
After learning the basics, I moved on and started to make my own variations. I had a lot of failures obviously, but now I can say I’m a pro at pasticcio 😉 in fact I’ve developed some interesting variations like using only vegetables or the radicchio rosso di Treviso which are my fave now!
Don’t worry my friends this is just the beginning. I will be sharing other recipes with you very soon. Just waiting for the autumn, the season of radicchio.
So stay tuned!
Meanwhile have a go with the traditional recipe like I did, in the beginning and then we can move on.
Just for curiosity, how many of you did know this recipe before? I’m so curious! Or something similar of course
Tips: To check if the pasticcio is cooked, you can use a knife; if the pasta sheets are soft and you can feel the knife reaching the bottom of the pot, it means that is ready.
To get a crunchy top, during the last 15 minutes of cooking, grate some Parmesan cheese on top or just add 3 minutes on the grill.