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meatless monday: pici (fail)

May 10, 2010

KC note:  I know this is a totally lame meatless monday post, but I’m currently in Sydney (with a fun KC goes to Sydney post to follow) and have to make do with recipes and pics that I had already prepared–forgive me, I promise I’ll make it up).

Anytime I take a trip I accumulate a new food obsession.  There’s always a dish that steals my heart and makes me wish I was right back wherever it is I was.  During our recent long weekend in Tuscany, pici (pee-chee) was that dish.  Long, totally unsymmetrical, freshly made pastas.  So, when I found a pici roller, I was beside myself excited to bring this little piece of Tuscany back home with me (that and the case of wine we bought).

Sadly, this gets categorized under the FAIL category.  Where did I go wrong?  Oh boy, where to  begin.

Mistake 1: I have no idea whether or not I was actually using semolina flour.  It’s possible, if not probable, that I totally messed up the German translation and used something totally off.  Not to mention that I just don’t remember any of the pici tasting like they had any semolina anything in them.  I should’ve gone with the recipes that purely called for white flour.  Next time.

Mistake 2: There are no shortcuts when it comes to fresh pasta.  I had spent a good deal of time, kneading out of the dough, rolling it out and then the fun part, cutting out the pici.  I had a whole pile of them perfectly floured and and waiting to cook.  Instead of cooking them in batches because I thought knew I didn’t have a pot big enough to cook them all at once, I shove them all in the pot that I thought knew wasn’t big enough hoping for the best.  And of course, they almost all stuck together, broke up, and didn’t cook thoroughly.  The horror.

So, here’s the recipe anyway.  You don’t need a pici roller for this, you can roll out thin strips by hand.  I would say learn from my mistakes, but that would be hypocritical, as I’m sure I’ll be bound to repeat at least one of them in the foreseeable future.

from Mario Batali


  • 2 cups semolina flour
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 to 1 1/4 cups tepid water


  1. Place both types of flour in a large mixing bowl and stir to mix well.
  2. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add the water a little at a time, stirring with your hands until a dough is formed. You may need more or less water (I needed quite a bit more), depending on the humidity in your kitchen.
  3. Place the dough on a floured work surface and knead it like bread until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes. Cover the dough and let it stand for 10 minutes at room temperature.
  4. Roll the dough into long dowels about 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick.
  5. Place the pasta strands between 2 hands and lightly roll back and forth to create a lightly spiraled, snake-like noodle.
  6. Place the pici on a sheet tray that has been dusted with semolina flour, cover the pasta with a clean dish towel, and set aside until ready to use. At this point, the pasta can be frozen for several months.
  7. Boil in salted water for 5-7 minutes, in small batches.  Boiling all the pasta together will result in all that hard work getting chopped up into little bits.  If you’re unsure of cooking times, do a test run with one of them before committing to  a batch.  You don’t want all that hard work to go down the drain.
2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 18, 2010 8:13 pm

    i would die for that pici cutter. seriously… we (ok, my husband jonny) cut his pici and then even rolled it by hand!

    i need to go give him a big hug now that i remembered this. semolina will make the pasta taste different than using regular flour. what sauce did you pair yours with?

    • May 18, 2010 8:33 pm

      Wow! That’s commitment. I have to admit that pici with that roller is pretty easy. There’s some minor rolling involved, but not nearly as much if done by hand. We ended up pairing it with a slow cooked rabbit ragu, which was simple and lovely but between the semolina letdown and the complete lapse in judgement in dumping them all in a small pot, it ended up tasting and looking like the most involved chicken stew known to man. Eventually we’ll give it another go (can’t let the pici roller collect dust) and we’ll definitely do it with all flour and perhaps a simple spicy tomato sauce.

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