Lucia makes strozzapreti pasta

The lovely Lucia Bonaffini showed us how she makes strozzapreti – a twisted pasta that is common throughout central Italy. The name translates as “priest strangler” and there are several fanciful explanations as to why; the common theme being an aversion to the gluttonous clergy. You could add an egg to make a more stretchy and easy to roll pasta, but Lucia has gone the traditional route and used an eggless pasta dough using a ratio of one third durum wheat semola pasta flour and two thirds grano tenero/all purpose flour. If you increase the amount of semola, you’ll get a more chewy pasta to eat, but a ‘tougher’ pasta to knead.

100g semolina flour (i.e. high in gluten and slightly coarsely ground)
200g all purpose flour/grano tenero ’00’ flour
1/4 teaspoon of salt
120ml not quite boiled water, approximately

How much water you’ll need will depend on the flours you’re using: you want a dough that’s pliable and not sticky once it’s mixed. So start by mixing the flours and salt, then add the hot water all at once, mixing vigorously. Lucia does this by hand but you could use a stand mixer with a dough hook. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for around 8 minutes until it is smooth and slightly elastic.

Let it rest for 30 minutes before rolling it out to pastry thickness – i.e. you are not looking to see the tablecloth or your hand through it.

Use a pastry cutter to slice the dough into 2cms strips. Stretch each one through your fingers and then roll and twist the strip at one end between the palms of your hands as Lucia demonstrates. Pinch off 10 cm pieces (or you could cut them into 10 centimetre bits to begin with) and lay them on a flour dusted tray.

Boil them for around 4 minutes in capacious amounts of water – when they bob to the surface they are done.

Lucia sauteed sliced guanciale (you could use 2 diced thick streaky bacon rashers), a minced garlic clove and a small chilli and then added steamed, broken up head of broccoli. She added this mixture to the pasta and served it with grated Pecorino cheese. Her husband is from Abruzzo, so her chosen cheese is from a particular shepherd on a particular Abruzzese mountain, who only makes his pecorino in spring. In other words: simple ingredients, but the quality is Just So.

This pasta is fun to make, and doesn’t need gadgets or machinery. Have a go.