Paccheri are large, wide tubes of pasta, typically made from a dough of durum wheat and water. Paccheri’s wide hollows are perfect for catching plenty of sauce, although you can also stuff and then bake them al forno (in the oven). Paccheri pasta is usually sold dried in order to preserve its tube-like shape, but we’ve been known to feature fresh, artisan paccheri on our weekly pasta menu.
Paccheri are a typical shape of the Italian region of Campania (and specifically Naples) but they’re a staple across the rest of southern Italy too. They take their name from paccaria, the Neapolitan slang for ‘to slap’, which is an accurate description of the noise this shape makes when cooked and then tossed in sauce, the pieces of pasta slapping against one another as they meet. Outside of southern Italy, paccheri are often called schiaffoni – which is the regular Italian word for ‘slaps’.
In today’s recipe, we serve these wide tubes ‘alla Sorrentina’ or Sorrento-style – a sauce of tomato, mozzarella and basil named after the Campanian seaside town of Sorrento and often served with gnocchi. Though not traditional, we serve our paccheri alla Sorrentina with tomatoes cooked two ways; first tossing them with a gently simmered sauce of plum tomatoes, before topping the finished dish with roasted cherry tomatoes for a final burst of flavour.
Our paccheri alla Sorrentina recipe
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Calories per serving: 377kcal
- 300g cherry tomatoes, halved
- 400g paccheri (rigatoni, mezze rigatoni or tortiglioni would also work)
- 400g peeled plum tomatoes (1 tin)
- 125g fresh mozzarella, cubed
- 30g fresh basil, leaves torn
- 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
- 50ml olive oil
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- Salt, to taste
- Preheat your oven to 180°C (160°C fan).
- Put the cherry tomatoes on a baking tray, then toss with a sprinkle of salt, the dried oregano and a drizzle of olive oil. Put into the oven for 30 minutes, removing once the tomatoes are wrinkled and beginning to burst.
- While the tomatoes roast, put a large frying over a medium heat and gently warm some olive oil and the sliced garlic until fragrant (be careful not to burn the garlic).
- Add the peeled plum tomatoes, crushing them with the back of a spoon, along with half of the torn basil and a generous pinch of salt. Let the pan bubble away for 10-15 minutes, removing it from the heat once it has developed a sauce-like consistency.
- Bring a large pan of water to a boil and salt well, then add your paccheri and cook for 2 minutes less than the packet instructions. Drain, reserving some of the cooking water.
- Put your pan of sauce back on the hob and turn the heat up to medium. Add the pasta, giving the pan a good swish to coat in the sauce, then let it cook for a final minute in the sauce. Add a splash of pasta water if it begins to look dry.
- Remove the pan from the heat, then throw in the mozzarella and give everything a good stir to combine. Transfer to bowls and serve topped with the roasted cherry tomatoes and the remaining basil. Buon appetito!
Paccheri alla Sorrentina wine pairing recommendation
The combination of a tomato sauce and a roasted tomato garnish brings plenty of acidity to this dish, so you want a wine that can counterbalance it. An Italian red with a decent amount of acidity (like a Nero D'avola or Primitivo) would be a good start, but for an ideal match we’d hone in on a lesser-known grape from the north of Italy: Dolcetto. The acidity in this wine will play off of the acidity from the tomato perfectly, softening its edge without overwhelming the milky mozzarella.