Lovely Luciana Paolucci showed us how she makes umbricelli pasta con sugo finto when we were in Umbria. Umbricelli are essentially the same as pici, although Luciana doesn’t use eggs. Sugo finto meanwhile means ‘fake ragu’ as it’s meatless; a simple tomato sauce with garlic and parsley.

There is the recipe:

For 4 people you’ll need:

  • 300g ‘O’ soft wheat or all purpose flour

  • approximately 150 ml of warm water

  • pinch of salt

Mix all the ingredients together and knead the dough until is feels silky – this will take a good 5 minutes. It’s difficult to be prescriptive about the amount of water you’ll need – it depends on your flour; the dough shouldn’t be sticky but it should come together quite easily. Leave it to rest for at least 10 minutes – it will relax and feel more ‘giving’.

Keep the dough covered and cut a walnut size piece off at a time and roll it out using flat palms, as Luciana demonstrates. You can snip the length in two if it makes it easier to handle; I rather enjoy seeing how long I can make them. It doesn’t matter if they’re a bit irregular, but aim to make them about about the same size for cooking purposes.

The dough dries out in a warm room, so keep them covered if that’s the case with you.

For the sugo finto:

  • a slug of extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 garlic clove, chopped

  • 1 glass of white wine

  • 400g tin of tomato passata (Luciana makes her own)

  • 1 tablespoon of chopped parsley

  • 50g grated pecorino or Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

Saute the garlic in the olive oil and once it just starts to turn colour pour in the wine – stand back as it bubbles rather. Let the alcohol boil off (sniff the air) and then add the tomato passata. Add a pinch of salt. Let it simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the chopped parsley.

While the sugo finto is cooking, bring water to the boil, add a generous amount of salt and bring it back to the boil before adding the umbricelli. Stir and let them bob to the surface. They’ll need about 2 minutes to cook.  I like mine to be firm – you don’t want them soggy.  Drain.

Marry the sauce and pasta in a serving bowl, along with the cheese. Serve immediately.