Homemade Sicilian Maccheroni Pasta or maccarruna as we call them is the must eat dish in my parents home town of Naso, Sicily and the surrounding area. This spherical shaped pasta has a wonderful bite to it and children will love slurping it!
Sicilian Maccheroni is definitely not your typical pasta. This is the most popular pasta from my parents hometown in Naso, Sicily, (province of Messina), and the surrounding area. In every restaurant for miles around you’ll find maccarruna, as we call them in Sicilian. Whether it’s served with plain tomato sauce, wild boar sauce (sugo al suino nero), or baked in a ceramic dish (al tegamino) it is the must eat dish!
I’ve shared photos of this maccheroni pasta with you before in my post about Messina as well as an earlier post describing our first family trip to Italy.
It is unlike the maccarruna found in other parts of Sicily that have a hole in the centre and referred to as maccheroni al ferretto.
There’s nothing like the texture of this spherical shaped, chunky pasta! Children enjoy slurping it up. It is so satisfying!
Maccheroni vs Macaroni
The Italian word maccheroni translates as macaroni in English. However, this term does not necessarily refer to elbow shaped macaroni pasta as we call it in North America. In Italy the generic term maccheroni generally refers to different pasta shapes.
What tool is needed to make maccarruna?
My mother made maccarruna by hand, just like they did in Sicily, until about 25 years ago. I marvel when I think about the enormous work involved in rolling these thin strips of dough one at a time. And of course, when my mother made her pasta she did not just make enough for 4 people!
We did use a hand crank bronze plated pasta extruder to make these maccarruna. But for old times sake, I asked my mother to show me how she rolled them. Here’s an example of that process:
Now imagine rolling two hundred more strands like this!
While in Sicily last summer, I asked my cousin if she made her own maccarruna. Definitely not, she replied! Why would she need to go through the trouble of making her own when they were sold fresh every where? It is truly a lost art!
About 25 years ago, my mother finally gave in and asked me to purchase this hand crank maccarruna maker when I visited her home town, Naso.
A bronze plated pasta extruder creates an artisanal style pasta by method of extrusion. As the dough is pushed through the bronze plate it creates a rough surface which allows the sauce to adhere to it. It is referred to as pasta that is trafilata al bronzo in Italian. This is in contrast to a teflon plated extruder which makes pasta with a much smoother surface.
What can I use to make this pasta if I don’t have a bronze pasta extruder?
I realize that without this bronze extruder you will not be able to make this Sicilian pasta. If any of you have come across this gadget, or any other than makes a similarly shaped pasta, please let me know so that I may be able to share this information with my readers.
Of course, there’s always the hand made option if you have the time and patience!
Step by Step Instructions
The process involved in making maccarruna is the same as that for any fresh pasta. My mother prefers using a bowl to mix her pasta dough, especially if it is not a large amount of flour.
Begin with a mound of flour. Make a well in the center and add 2 large eggs. Pour in 1/3 cup of water.
Using a fork, begin to gently beat the eggs and slowly incorporating the flour into the egg/water mixture.
The mixture will soon look like this:
At this point, you’ll have to use your hands to knead the dough until smooth and elastic. Cover and let rest at room temperature for about half an hour.
After the dough has rested, assemble your maccaruna maker or pasta maker of your choice. Cut the dough into 4 pieces. Knead each piece of dough until smooth, adding a bit of flour if sticky. Keep the unused pieces of dough covered to prevent from drying.
Roll the dough into maccarruna by inserting a nugget of dough in the feeder and pressing down with your thumb to ease the dough through. Cut to the desired length.
Place strands of maccarruna on a parchment covered tray, separating layers with a sheet of parchment paper to prevent from sticking.
Cook immediately by bringing a large pot of water to a boil. Alternately freeze the maccarruna well sealed in a freezer bag. Freeze for up to 3 months. Boil without thawing and serve with your favorite sauce.
Maccarruna is typically served with a rich meat sauce made with meatballs, sausage, pork ribs or other meats of your choice. You can make my mother’s meatball recipe and toss the maccarruna with the sauce from the meatballs.
For vegetarians, a simple tomato sauce will do. Sauté a small finely diced onion and clove of garlic. Add tomato purée (or tomato passata) and let simmer for at least 30 minutes. You can also flavor the sauce with fresh basil, if available, and red pepper flakes for extra kick.
For an authentic Sicilian experience, it is a must to serve maccarruna with freshly grated ricotta salata. I like mine completely covered with snowy white ricotta salata!
Now you’re ready to make your own Homemade Sicilian Maccheroni! Please let me know how much you’ve enjoyed yours by sharing your lovely photos with me. Tag me with @manigabedda or #mangiabedda on Facebook or Instagram. Be sure to save the Pin for later. Buon appetito!
Check out more Sicilian pasta recipes!
- Sicilian Pasta with Anchovies and Breadcrumbs
- Pasta ca’ muddica
- Sicilian Pasta al Forno
- Pistachio Pesto Shrimp Pasta
- Sicilian Pasta with Creamy Pistachio Sauce
- Pasta alla Norma
- Sicilian Lasagna
- Annelletti al Forno with Eggplant
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 large eggs
- 1/3 cup water
- In a large bowl or directly on your counter, place the flour in a mound.
- Make a well in the center of the flour and add both eggs.
- Carefully pour water on the eggs. Use a fork to begin beating the eggs gently, slowly incorporating the flour into the egg mixture.
- When the mixture resembles a crumbly mass, use your hands to knead the dough until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Cover the dough and let rest at room temperature for about half an hour.
- Meanwhile, prepare your pasta maker. When the dough has rested, cut it into 4 pieces. Knead each piece adding a bit of flour if the dough is sticky. Keep remaining pieces of dough covered to prevent from drying.
- Add a nugget of dough at a time to your pasta maker. Cut at desired length. Place on a parchment covered tray. Sprinkle lightly with flour to prevent from sticking.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt generously and cook pasta until al dente.
- Serve with your favorite sauce.
- If not serving the same day, freeze the maccarruna in a well sealed freezer bag. Freeze for up to 3 months. Boil without thawing first.
- Maccarruna are typically served with a rich sauce made with added meatballs, sausage, pork ribs or other meats of your choice. You can make my mother's meatball recipe and coat the maccarruna with the sauce from the meatballs.
- For vegetarians, a simple tomato sauce will do. Sauté a small finely diced onion and clove of garlic. Add tomato purée (or tomato passata) and let simmer for at least 30 minutes. You can also flavor the sauce with fresh basil, if available, and red pepper flakes for extra kick.
- For an authentic Sicilian experience, serve maccarruna with freshly grated ricotta salata.
- Please note that the nutritional information provided is for the pasta only, without any condiment.
I am wondering out loud what it is that is so important we get to doing that we can’t spend the time it takes to make the pasta strands by hand. Or is it that patience and focus is the lost art?
I have a less rhetorical question too: Is semolina not used in Sicilian pasta-making? Enjoyed this post.
Hello Brian, I did attempt to roll a strand of maccaruna myself and I must admit the thought of rolling out hundreds of these strands is quite daunting so thank goodness for the hand cranked extruder! My relatives in Sicily don’t make them at home at all as they are available in grocery stores everywhere. As for semolina, yes in fact I did share a recipe for busiate pasta, typical of Trapani, made with semolina flour. Thanks for your question!
Fante’s sells a brass pasta extruder although it is a bit pricey.
Hi Laura, it does look quite impressive indeed. But of course it is pricey, I agree. Someone mentioned that perhaps a sausage maker may work as well. It does seem to have the right sized holes. I’m hoping to hear from someone who might try it and let me know how it goes. Thanks for taking the time to write to me!
Wow! This looks awesome! I cannot wait to try this recipe! The demonstration video is wonderful, what blessed hands! Thank you!
Hi Annie, it really is awesome! Blessed hands indeed. I can not imagine ever rolling that many strands of pasta by hand. It was truly a labour of love but thank goodness for the pasta extruder we now use. Thanks for your comment!
Sally A File
Hi thank you for this recipe and the video, my mother used to make it the very same way, rolling every strand!!! It was the best I ever had,
Hi Sally, so nice to hear your mom did that too! I watched her roll and I couldn’t imagine rolling hundreds of strands like that, it is truly a lost art! Thankfully we have the pasta extruder which does a great job. I love this pasta too, it has such a satisfying bite to it. Thanks for stopping by my blog!
concetta m nickell
Wondering why a sausage maker wouldn’t work as the extruder? Similar looking gizmo with the right sized holes, etc! Anyone ever try it?
Hi Concetta, I was wondering the same thing. I don’t have one therefore have never tried it before, so I didn’t want to suggest it. If you do have one and you try it out, please let me know how it goes! Thanks for your comment!
Not only your Sicilian mamma, my Neapolitin mamma did exactly what yours did … rolled out sheets as big as our table, then used it to make all sorts of macherone, and definitely Maccaruna, although I don’t remember that name. I do remember the specific bite it had. We had home made macherone every single night, all made by the loving hands of my mamma. I started out in my marriage doing as she did but eventually bought a pasta machine to roll out the dough, made life so much easier. I looked at the extruder from Amazon and while it looks OK it seems to me to make small amounts. I think, not sure, Kitchen Aide may have an attachment to their stand mixer that can be used to make different shapes of macherone but not sure … will need to check it out.
As usual, so many thanks for keeping our heritage going. Much appreciated Nadia.
Hi Anna, there are definitely so many variations of this pasta in different parts of Italy. Even in Sicily itself it’s made in many different ways. I love the bite of this pasta as well, it’s so satisfying! And I agree, a pasta maker makes it so much easier. As for the extruder, I think if you make a larger amount of dough, you would have to simply add a piece at a time, in the same way that we do with my mother’s extruder. I do have the Kitchen Aide but unfortunately it does not have the attachment to make this shape. The closest would be the bucatini shape, which is delicious as well. Nice to hear from you Anna, take care!
I have to laugh at your reference to bucatini … I really like them but they tend to ‘slap you in the face’, so hard to wind around your fork. Fun!
You’re so right Anna, they are very messy to eat! And I don’t want to cut them up like when I was a child!