Anellini al forno – baked anellini with sausage and aubergine ragù

Anellini al forno – baked anellini with pork and aubgergine ragu

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Anellini is the name given to a variety of tiny hoop-shaped pasta from Sicily. It is a variant of anelli, which is a slightly larger hoop, perhaps most recognisable in places like the UK as tinned 'spaghetti hoops'. In Italy, however, these little rings are used in soups, salads and baked pasta dishes such as this anellini al forno recipe. The pasta is cooked directly in a ragù of classic Sicilian flavours (pork, fennel and aubergine). A very delicious and comforting dish.

1
Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a pan. Add the fennel seeds and sliced garlic and cook very gently over a low heat – you want the garlic to just soften and flavour the oil without changing colour
2
At this stage, add the sausage meat and brown
3
In the meantime, add half the remaining oil to a frying pan and fry off the diced aubergine until golden. You will probably need to work in batches. Drain on kitchen paper to remove excess oil
4
Once the sausage meat has turned brown, add the white wine and reduce by half. Add the tinned tomatoes and aubergine, then season with salt and pepper and leave to simmer over a low-medium heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally
5
Preheat an oven to 180°C/gas mark 4
6
The pasta will soak up moisture as it bakes, so you want the ragu to be quite loose (add a splash of water if it has reduced too much). Fold the pasta into the sauce then transfer to a baking dish and top with breadcrumbs and grated pecorino. Bake for 15 minutes and serve immediately
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