The origin of Pici pasta dates back to Etruscan times. Pici represents the essence of Tuscan Cucina Povera cuisine. Pici is very thick and irregular since they are handmade one by one. Although, there are many sauces that can be made with Pici, the classic sauce is “L’aglione, a tasty garlicky tomato sauce.
cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 small egg, lightly beaten
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup room temperature water, plus extra if needed
Extra virgin olive oil and semolina flour for tossing
Place the flour and salt in a bowl. Add the egg and stir in the water with a wooden spoon. If the dough does not gather around the spoon, add a little more water by the spoonful until a dough forms. Knead the dough for 5 minutes, or until very smooth and pliable; the dough should be somewhat soft but not sticky. Flatten into a disk and rub both sides with olive oil. Let rest, wrapped in plastic for 30 minutes or up to 3 hours at room temperature.
Rub a work counter with olive oil. Cut the dough into 1/2 inch wide strips and roll each into a long, thin rope, using the palms of your hands. Each rope should be 1/2 inch thick. Toss each rope as it is finished with a little semolina flour and place on a tray in curling nests until ready to cook (the pici can be held at room temperature, covered loosely with a dry kitchen towel, for up to 3 hours). If you find that the dough resists and/or sticks to the counter as you roll it out, rub the counter lightly again with olive oil.
Fresh Baby Tomato and Basil Sauce (My version of L’aglione)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
Freshly ground black pepper
Pinch red pepper flakes
1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
Freshly torn basil leaves
In large skillet add the olive oil and sliced garlic; cook 30-45 seconds on medium-low heat. Add tomatoes and raise the heat to medium-high. Season with salt and peppers. Allow tomatoes to cook undisturbed for few minutes before turning. Cook 6-9 minutes more until tomatoes slightly wrinkle and some are golden. Taste for seasoning; adjust as needed. When the sauce is ready, add in the fresh basil.
Cook the pici in boiling salted water until al dente. Strain and transfer to the skillet with sauce. Gently fold in the sauce on low heat. Top with fresh basil and serve. Serves 4.