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Pici pasta with 
garlic tomato sauce recipe

Pici with 
garlic tomato sauce
A simple, slow-cooked tomato sauce with fresh hand-rolled spaghetti Credit: Emma Lee

Pici – long, hand-rolled and thickish strips of pasta –  are made with a pasta recipe that uses water instead of eggs in the dough. 

Prep time: 30 minutes, plus time to make the fresh pasta dough | Cooking time: 2 hours 25 minutes

SERVES

Four

INGREDIENTS

For the garlic sauce

  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1 fresh red chilli pepper, sliced into three pieces
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 400g plum tomatoes, preferably San Marzano

For the pasta

  • 400g 00 or plain flour pinch of salt
  • 1 egg
  • About 165ml water
  • Semolina flour, to roll the pici in

METHOD

  1. The 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 5mm. 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.
  2.  About 15 minutes into the cooking, add the chilli pepper, and continue frying the two ingredients for the final five minutes. Stir through the tomato purée and 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 two hours, adding a splash of water from time to time if you need to.
  3.  You want a thick sauce at the end. Use a hand-held blender to purée it, to make sure the garlic and chilli disappear.
  4. Make the pasta dough as described in this article, but swap three of the eggs for water.
  5. Fill a shallow bowl with semolina flour to drop your pici into, to stop them from sticking together.
  6.  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).
  7. Roll the dough out quite thickly, about 5mm. Then slice it up, making 1cm x 12cm batons.
  8. 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 to keep the pasta even in thickness. Aim for about 3mm in diameter and a length of about 40cm.
  9. Drop your finished pici into the semolina. If the bowl starts getting a little crowded, move them on to a tray.
  10.  Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and drop the pici in. Cook for two minutes and then test if they are done. Drain and stir through the sauce – you want it to cling to the pasta and not puddle around it.
  11.  Serve immediately – traditionally, no cheese is added to the dish.

Pasta Grannies: The Secrets of Italy’s Best Home Cooks, by Vicky Bennison, is published by Hardie Grant (£20). Order your copy from books.telegraph.co.uk