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Busiate Pasta

Busiate is a special Sicilian pasta formed by twisting small pieces of dough, made from durum semolina and water, around a wooden skewer to create a spiral shape that looks like a telephone cord!   A special tool called a ferro, a thin rod is used to form the shape.  There are stories about the origin of the name busiate.  Some say it comes from buso, a thin iron knitting needle used to work wool and cotton in Trapani, in the western part of the island.  The sauce for busiate is made with almonds, a major product of the island, and basil, garlic, tomatoes and olive oil.  Traditionally made in a mortar and pestle, the sauce has the consistency of a thick pesto.


Makes about 3/4 pound dough

2 cups durum semolina flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

Warm water as needed (about 1/2 cup)

Pesto alla Trapanese - Makes 1 cup

1/2 cup raw almonds

10 to 12 large cherry tomatoes, skinned and coarsely chopped

3 cloves garlic, peeled

8 basil leaves, torn into small pieces

Few grains coarse salt

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano


 Dump the flour on a work surface and sprinkle with the salt.  Mix and form a well. Add the water a little at a time and combine until a soft dough forms, that is not sticky.  Knead until smooth.  Let dough rest covered for 30 minutes.

Pinch off large grape size pieces of dough and roll each piece under the palms of your hands into a thin rope shape, about 8 inches long.  Place a well floured wooden skewer, about 12 inches long diagonally at one end of the dough and loosely roll the dough around it, forming a spiral shape; slide the dough off the form and place the busiate on kitchen towels as they are made.  Repeat with remaining dough.

Grind the almonds in a food processor or spice grinder until they are coarse crumbs.  Transfer them to a small non-stick sauté pan and toast them until they are fragrant and have taken on a little color.  Transfer to a bowl.  Set aside.

Place the tomatoes in boiling water for a few minutes until the skin blisters; cool, peel, remove the seeds and break them up.  Set aside.  Or make a slit in each one and microwave them on high heat for 1 to 2 minutes until skins are cracked.  Cool, peel, chop and set aside.

Add the garlic and almonds to the mortar and crush.  Add the basil and grind the mixture.   Add salt.

Add the tomatoes and drizzle in olive oil until a thick sauce is obtained. Season with salt and pepper.

Cook the busiate, drain and mix with sauce; sprinkle with grated pecorino Romano cheese.

This recipe is featured on show 2808 – From Sicily with Love.


  1. Leti Labell's avatar

    Leti Labell

    Where can I get a ferro rod?
  2. Jim Carlucci's avatar

    Jim Carlucci

    Use a bamboo skewer.

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