Passatelli la Pasta, Baby

I’m a big fan of a great glass of red wine and a delicious bowl of pasta made from scratch. ~Zoe McClellan

There are a zillion types of pasta in the world, and I’ve made many of them. Okay, maybe I exaggerate the number, but there are a lot, and I’ve made a lot. Spaghetti, yep. Chitarra, yep. Fettuccine, yep. Tagliatelle, yep. Ravioli, yep. Lasagne, yep. Farfalle, unfortunately yep. A bunch of others, yep. Passatelli, NO.

Pasta that I didn’t make

I’m guessing that you may not have heard of passatelli, and I’ve never seen it in a grocery outside of the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. Normally cooked in a broth, passatelli consists of breadcrumbs, grated cheese, eggs, lemon, and nutmeg. I should note that different recipes of passatelli include butter, but in the class we took yesterday, we didn’t use it.

Aperitivi at Luana’s

Because a lot of my guests like to cook, I look for different classes for them, and making passatelli is one that not many places offer. I found it through AirBnB, and booked with Luana a few months ago. She and Giuliano, the chef, met Kelly and me and another couple at Mercato delle Erbe in Bologna’s historic center. We bought a few fresh ingredients, and then we headed to her apartment where aperitivi waited.

Grating the lemons and measuring the breadcrumbs

After we had a little Pignoletto (a sparkling white wine from Emilia-Romagna) and talked, we started cooking. I converted the following recipe from grams to cups. It will serve two people.

Breadcrumbs, cheese, lemon zest, salt, nutmeg, and eggs

Mix together roughly 2/3 cup of finely ground breadcrumbs and 2/3 cup of parmesan cheese. Add to the mix the zest of one lemon, a pinch of salt, nutmeg (No set amount here, but I’m guessing we used about one teaspoon.), and three eggs.

Mix all ingredients together using a spoon, and when they stick together, use your hand. The dough should be soft and not too dry, so if it doesn’t stick together enough, add a little egg at a time until it forms the ball. Cover the dough, and put it in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes. NOTE: Some recipes call for the dough to rest two hours, four hours, or even overnight. Ours rested about 20 minutes while we prepared the sauce.

Quartered tomatoes with garlic clove

While passatelli is traditionally served in a broth, Giuliano and Luana taught us to make a simple sauce, and we had Passatelli Secchi (Dry). In a fry pan, we sauteed a few garlic cloves in a little olive oil before adding about a quart of cherry tomatoes (quartered). When those had cooked down, we added chopped parsley and seared guanciale (a bacon-like meat).

When the sauce is about ready, take the dough out of the refrigerator and break it into tennis-ball sized pieces. Place one ball in the passatelli maker (which resembles a potato ricer), and squeeze the dough through. You can cut it off in any length you want. Our pieces were one-to-two inches long.

Cook for one minute (and only one minute) in salted boiling water or in the broth. If you are serving it “dry” as we did, drain, mix with the sauce, and serve. Of course, you can top it with more grated cheese.

Our class—Tom, Giuliano, Laura, Kelly, Moi, and Luana

I want to publicly thank Luana and Giuliano for hosting us and having patience with our group—especially yours truly since my injured hand prevented me from doing much of anything. I definitely think the class was worth the time and charge, and I encourage you to look it up if you are ever in Bologna and are looking for a different cooking experience.

Tomorrow: We’re heading to Montecatini Terme. Let’s see what kind of hot water I can get into there.

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