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Pici all'aglione – Tuscan hand-rolled pasta with tomato and garlic sauce

Pici all’aglione

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Pici are thick, hand-rolled noodles originally from Siena and its surrounding areas, and are now widespread all over Tuscany. Rustic, imperfect, chewy and resilient, they have a unique bite that sets them apart from other types of long fresh pasta.

They are often seasoned with plain tomato sauce or meatless sugo finto ('fake ragù'), or with breadcrumbs. Below, I share a recipe for a garlic-spiked tomato sauce called sugo all’aglione (aglione being a particular variety of garlic typical of Tuscany) – another classic pairing to flour-and-water pici.

Ingredients

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  • Sugo all'aglione

  • 60ml of extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 800g of tinned plum tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • Pici

  • 300g of plain flour
  • 300g of durum wheat flour, (semolina)
  • 300g of water, lukewarm
  • 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
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Method

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1
For the pici, mix the flours together on a work surface. Make a mound and then create a well in its centre. Slowly pour in the water mixed with the oil. Gently start to incorporate the flour and water to form a smooth dough (add a little more flour if it appears too soft and sticky). Flatten the dough slightly, wrap it in cling film and leave to rest for 30 minutes
2
For the sauce, heat the oil in a large skillet set over a medium heat. Add the garlic cloves and let them infuse the oil for a couple of minutes, then discard them and add the chopped tomatoes. Cook, stirring every so often, until they have broken down into a rustic sauce – about 30 minutes. Remove from the heat momentarily while you shape the pici
3
Next, divide the dough into 3 pieces and roll each piece out into a 5mm thick sheet using a rolling pin (you don't want the sheet of pasta to be too thin or it'll be harder to roll the pici). Cut out long strips of dough, about 5mm wide. Then, using your palms, roll them into rope-like noodles starting from the centre and working towards the extremities. Ensure that your work surface is dusted with flour and semolina at all times while shaping the pici. Irregular is okay here – just aim for an average diameter of 1–2mm
4
Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the pici and cook for about 4 minutes, or until tender but still al dente. Drain and transfer to the saucepan with the tomato sauce. Toss over a low heat for a minute or until evenly coated in sauce. Serve immediately, perhaps with some grated Parmesan or pecorino
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