This Homemade Pici Pasta is easy, has few ingredients and doesn’t require any special equipment! It’s an enjoyable project for the weekend and homemade pasta is always extra satisfying. The shape of these is similar to what would be a thick hand-rolled spaghetti. Also, it’s an eggless pasta so it’s perfect for those allergic to eggs or people who for some reason can’t eat them. This traditional Tuscan pasta is delicious with many sauces and has a beautiful bite when you chew it.
Why this recipe is so great
This handmade pasta is extremely fun to make. The best part is that you don’t need any special equipment: no rolling pin, no pasta machine, no food processor. All you need is your hands and you’ll be able to make it. Pici pasta is uneven in nature, you want it to look as rustic as the handmade pasta it is. When it cooks, it has a slight chew that is pleasant and works well with many sauces. I don’t have kids myself but I have heard that it’s also a great activity to do with them. After all, playdough got their inspiration somewhere!
Origin of Pici Pasta
This Pici pasta originated in the Tuscany region in Italy. The basis for this recipe is flour and water in essence, others (like me) also add olive oil for extra flavour and texture. The sauce I made here with pancetta and garlic is also very traditional and similar to the original recipe with which Tuscan Pici pasta is served. In this recipe, instead of grated cheese, we use toasted bread crumbs for extra texture and saltiness. Of course, if you like you can also add grated parmesan cheese or pecorino would be nice as well.
Ingredients for Pici Pasta
As I mentioned before, this Pici Pasta dough is made with extremely simple ingredients. You will place them all in a large mixing bowl and mix using your hands. After the dough has come together, knead for 5 minutes or so or until you have a smooth dough. Here are the ingredients you need for the Pici dough:
- Flour: Ideally, you want to use 00-type flour when making this homemade Pici Pasta. That’s a stronger flour with which pasta is usually made. However, if you can’t get it, you can certainly use all-purpose flour instead and the recipe still works. It just depends on what you can get your hands on.
- Water: The water in this recipe goes in warm. This is to quickly hydrate the flour and form the type of dough that we need.
- Salt: A bit of salt adds flavour to the dough.
- Olive oil: I used extra-virgin olive oil for the dough. It adds a lovely flavour and bite.
How to shape Pici Pasta
Once you have your Pici dough, you will let it rest at room temperature covered in plastic wrap or cling film for 30 minutes. After that, we’re ready to make our handmade pasta which requires just a little bit of elbow grease. Take the dough ball and cut small portions of it with a bench scraper. Take a piece of Pici Pasta dough and use your clean hands to roll it on a clean work surface to form a long snake-like shape. You will push forward and backwards using the palms of your hands to shape it, making it longer and longer each time. Stop when you have long strips that are about 3mm thick. As you make them lay them on a flat surface or a sheet tray on a single layer to prevent them from sticking. It also helps if you’re using a floured tray so that the pasta doesn’t stick. If you like you can freeze it at this point. Use a baking tray or baking dish that fits in your freezer, place a piece of baking paper on top and lay the pasta in nests on top of that. Freeze overnight and after that time you can transfer them into a freezer bag to save for future use. You can keep it like this in a good state for up to 3 months.
How to cook and serve
Now that you have successfully created homemade Pici Pasta, it’s time to cook it and serve it. Cooking this pasta is the same as any other. You need a large pot of salted water, no oil is necessary. Bring it to a rolling boil and add the pasta (fresh or frozen). It only needs a couple of minutes to cook al dente, something that’s common with fresh pasta. Once it’s ready, transfer it straight to the sauce in a pan. In my case, the sauce was very simple. Here are the ingredients I used:
- Olive oil: The olive oil will be the base for the sauce, where we cook the other ingredients. It will add shine and a lovely texture when we eat it.
- Pancetta: I cut up pancetta slices and toasted them in the olive oil over medium heat. That smoky flavour is always delicious! You can replace it with bacon if that’s what you have at hand.
- Garlic cloves: Garlic is my soul food. It adds a punch to this Pici Pasta and at the same time is so sweet and delicious. Try to avoid replacing fresh garlic with garlic powder since the flavour between them is quite different. Now I think I have to say I love garlic powder! It’s just that they both have their place and time to use.
- Salt and pepper: Salt and pepper add the final bits of flavouring to the dish. I would say go heavy on the pepper here.
- Bread crumbs: For the bread crumbs you can just sautée panko bread crumbs in olive oil or make them like me. I toasted a piece of sourdough bread in plenty of olive oil. Once it was golden on both sides I let them cool down and process them to get the crumbs.
If you need more options for pasta sauces, here are a couple of options I adore. All of them work really well with Pici Pasta.
Hand-Rolled Pici Pasta with Easy Sauce
For the Pici Pasta
- 300 g 00 flour or all-purpose flour
- 130 ml warm water
- 5 tbsp olive oil
- ½ tsp salt
For the pancetta and garlic sauce
- 1 slice of sourdough bread or 50g panko breadcrumbs
- Olive oil
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 50 g pancetta slices cut into small cubes
- 2 garlic cloves puréed finely grated or minced
- Salt and pepper
For the Pici pasta
- In a large bowl mix the flour and salt.
- Add the warm water and the olive oil and mix it in using a spatula until it doesn’t help anymore. Place the dough on a clean surface and knead it for 5 minutes or until you have a soft and homogeneous dough.
- Wrap the dough in cling film and let it rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- Cut small portions of the dough and use your hands to roll them on a surface to create a strip. Keep rolling as it thins out and stop when it reaches 3mm thick.
- As you make the pasta, lay them next to each other in one layer on a floured surface. That can be the working surface or a baking tray.
- Once all the pasta is ready, place a large saucepan with salty water to boil. Once it’s boiling, add the pasta and cook it for 2 minutes.
- Remove it from the water and add it straight into the sauce.
For the pancetta and garlic sauce
- In a skillet with plenty of olive oil, add the slice of bread and get it very golden on both sides. You can also sprinkle it with salt and pepper. Once golden, remove it from the pan and let it cool down. Process it so get the breadcrumbs. Alternatively, you can toast panko breadcrumbs ina pan with a bit of olive oil.
- Add the 4 tbsp of olive oil to a large pan. Add the pancetta and cook it over medium heat until it becomes golden.
- Add the garlic and cook it stirring constantly for 1 minute.
- Add the cooked pasta, stir to combine. Add a bit of salt to taste and also plenty of pepper.