Total Time: 20 minutes

Spaghetti alla carrettiera, dish named after the Sicilian cart drivers. Sicilian carts are famous for the way they were ornate and decorated. A real show of art and elegance. But for every day chores and work, a simpler more practical cart was used.

This quick pasta recipe meant a short yet satisfying stop. Use ripe San Marzano tomatoes (plum tomatoes) and fresh basil – dry basil won’t render justice. This sauce can be delicious also uncooked and that how originally was, very appropriate in the summer hot days. Only it should rest for some time, half an hour and more, after mixing the ingredients to let flavors mingle

Oil, garlic and basil, is an easy commonly used combination everywhere in Italy.  Another poor version of the Sicilian spaghetti alla carrettiera, probably the first as the easiest and simplest is like in spaghetti aglio e olio, but garlic and other ingredients are raw.

Cart drivers in other parts of Italy, liked to have a good pasta dish too, easy to prepare and nourishing. So there is the Toscana version, which is practically the same as the Sicilian except for substituting parsley to basil.

The Romana version has more ingredients, still they were items cart drivers could easily carry, not subject to spoiling.


Ingredients for 4 people:

  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 6 San Marzano tomatoes finely chopped
    with their juice.
  • 12 leaves of fresh basil shredded by hand
  • 1 teaspoon hot pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup of pecorino
  • salt



Warm up oil in a large pan over moderate heat. Stir in the garlic first, then add tomatoes, some basil and hot pepper. Let simmer uncovered for at least 10 minutes.

Finish cooked spaghetti in the pan at lively heat. Add rest of basil and pecorino. Mix well. Serve.


Note: put tomatoes in boiling water for about 30 seconds for easy skin removal and remove seeds too.. Extra virgin olive oil better especially for the uncooked version.

Spaghetti alla carrettiera romana

More Italian Pasta Recipes From Italy’s Regions

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