From The Kitchen Of: Agata Arena

I enjoyed a lot of fantastic food during the six months I spent in Sicily last year; three of my favorite meals were culinary masterpieces skillfully made by my friend’s mom, Agatha. Agatha’s namesake, like many women in the Catania area, is the patron saint of the city, Saint Agatha. There is a huge annual festival given in her honor on her memorial day which happens to be today, February 5th.

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Agatha (far left), with her granddaughter, Ellie and a friend.

Saint Agatha lived in the first half of the 3rd century. She has a very tragic but inspirational story which you can read more about here.

As for my friend’s mom, Agatha Arena is also legendary. Her reputation as an exquisite cook preceded her long before we were introduced.

“If Agatha made it, it must be incredible.”

Shortly after I returned to Sicily in the Fall, my friend, Margherita, invited me over for dinner. Seeing how much I enjoyed this dish, Agatha graciously gave me the recipe and permission to share it with you here.

Passata di Lenticchie

250g lentils

1 big carrot

1 medium onion

50g of tomato sauce

salt to taste

extra virgin olive oil

pasta (Agatha used ditalini but another small pasta with a similar shape will work just as well)

Chop the carrot and onion and cook with the lentils and tomato sauce for about a half an hour or until desired softness. Process through a food mill (you can use a food processor or blender but a food mill is much better because it separates the skins of the lentils from the sauce).

For two people, combine one cup of “passata” and two cups of water. Bring mixture to boil and add pasta and salt. Cook for about 10 minutes. Stir until ready. Serve with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and enjoy!


2 thoughts on “From The Kitchen Of: Agata Arena

  1. Really intriguing—I never thought about blending the lentils and then adding water and cooking that with the pasta… I think my toddler just might enjoy this and it’ll be a way to coax her into eating lentils 🙂 Thanks


    • Thanks for reading and commenting! The idea of putting the sauce in the water as the pasta is cooking is a bit bizarre, at least to me. Then again, I only just recently learned about tortellini served in broth too! I have a feeling there are a lot of other brilliant things Italian do with their pasta I have yet to discover! I hope your toddler likes the recipe!


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