Pici in Garlic Tomato Sauce
Pasta Grannies: The Official Cookbook
This hand-rolled pasta (called Pici) and garlic tomato sauce is easy to make and delicious to eat. The recipe comes from “Pasta Grannies: The Official Cookbook” by Vicky Bennison, who traveled through Italy collecting recipes from actual grandmothers. This particular recipe was shared by a 93 year old woman named Giuseppina Spiganti. Break out your pasta pot and enjoy a meal that quite literally comes from an Italian grandma to you.
- 400 g 00 flour or plain (all-purpose) flour
- Pinch of salt
- 1 egg
- About 165 ml water
- Semolina flour, to roll the pici in
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 5 garlic cloves, ones that have not developed their ‘anima’ or green shoots
- Fresh red chilli peppers, to taste (Giuseppina used one, sliced into three)
- 2 tablespoons tomato purée
- 400 g plum tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
1The sauce has to simmer for a couple of hours, so start this before your pasta. Pour the olive oil into a small saucepan – it should cover the base to a depth of 5 mm (1/4 in). Warm up the oil over a low heat and sauté the whole garlic cloves until you can crush them with a spoon; they shouldn’t burn. This will take about 20 minutes. About 15 minutes into the cooking, add the chilli pepper, and continue frying the two ingredients for the final 5 minutes. Stir through the tomato purée, followed by the plum tomatoes. Break up the tomatoes with a wooden spoon, season with salt, and add half a tin of water. Let this simmer very gently over a low heat for 2 hours, adding a splash of water from time to time if you need to. You want a thick sauce at the end. Giuseppina uses a food mill to purée the sauce – to make sure the garlic and chilli disappear. You could also use a hand-held blender.
2Make the pasta dough as described in the Egg Pasta Dough Recipe below but swap 3 of the eggs for water. Fill a shallow bowl with semolina flour to drop your pici into, to stop them from sticking together. Place a small bowl of water to the side of your pasta board, so you can keep your fingers moist while rolling the dough into pici (or use a small spritzing bottle filled with water).
3Roll the dough out quite thickly, about 5 mm (1/4 in). Then slice it up, making 1 x12 cm (½ x 5 in) batons. Take each one, place it on the board and place both your hands together over the pasta. Keep your fingers straight and roll out the pasta, moving your hands apart. You are creating a spaghetti strand, so try and keep the pasta even in thickness. Giuseppina’s pici are much slimmer than some of the tubby versions you see on the Internet; aim for about 3 mm in diameter and 40 cm (15 ¾ in) long.
4Drop your finished pici into the semolina. If the bowl starts getting a little crowded, move them onto a tray.
5Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and drop the pici in. Cook for 2 minutes and then test for doneness. Drain and stir through the sauce – you want it to cling to the pasta and not puddle around it. Serve immediately. Traditionally, no cheese is added.
Excerpted from “Pasta Grannies: The Official Cookbook”. Copyright 2019 Hardie Grant UK
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