One old and rustic pasta – Tuscan Pici with aglione sauce and artichokes
Pasta rustica – Pici Toscani all’aglione e carciofini
Going back to what I like best…making homemade pasta. I made these to my parents when I went visit and they loved it. Marche (where my family is from) and Tuscany are close by regions and have similar cuisines (of course with some variations), So these “pici” also called Pinci, Umbrichelli (little werms?) and are typically Tuscan but familiar in Central Italy as well. My grandmother used to make similar pasta with fava bean flour and with the same sauce, lots of garlic and fresh tomato.
Pici take a while to make, because you have to roll each little strip “striscia” by hand…but time doesn’t count when you get so excited making something you absolutely love. Pici are delicious, they’re a bit chewy because they’re made without eggs, only water, salt and olive oil. So if you like chewy textures, you’ll like those. They could be considered an old cousin of our modern spaghetti.
The dough needs to be knead for about 10-15 minutes, until very smooth and non sticky. Form a round and regular ball. Then using a rolling pin, roll it flat to about a 5 mm sheet. Cut little strips of about 1 cm width and using your hand roll each strip to form a string of about 3mm (I am sorry I don’t know how to accurately convert it into inches) in this case, the metric system should be used for accuracy. Pici cannot be made too much ahead of time. The ideal is to made them and cook them right away. Pici are long and should not be cut, so it can get a little messy when eaten.
Usually those are served with aglione sauce (aglio means garlic) which is a sauce with fresh tomatoes and lots of garlic, or some meat based ragu. I made an aglione base sauce and added baby artichokes. From now on, this will be my favorite pasta, I simply love its texture, firm and a bit chewy. If you like this type of texture, this pasta is for you.
Ingredients for 2
For the pici
- 0.55 lb (or 250 g) flour
- 0.50 cups (or 125 ml) water
- 1 tbs olive oil
- a pinch of salt
For the sauce
- 2 tbs olive oil
- 5 cloves, garlic cut or crushed
- 8 baby artichokes, trimmed and cut in quarters
- 1/2 glass white wine
- 3 large tomatoes well ripe peeled and cut or 1/2 can San Marzano tomatoes crushed
- cayenne to taste
- salt and pepper
First start making the sauce. In a pan, heat olive oil, then add garlic, stir well. Add artichokes, drizzle with wine, let it cook at high heat for 30 seconds, then add tomatoes. Turn heat down, add cayenne, salt and pepper, cover with lid and let cook until the artichokes are tender and water evaporates from tomatoes.
Make pici as described above. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, then add pici. Cook for about 8-10 minutes. They need to be cooked but still a bit firm. I like my pasta on the hard side, so try them out while cooking and see the way you like them. Drain well and serve with sauce. Mix well. Add basil and parmesan.
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