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Pici all'Aglione

(Pasta with Garlic Tomato Sauce)

I learned how to make hand-rolled pici, a pasta found only in a small area of southern Tuscany, from Massimiliano Mariotti, chef Al Casale in Chianciano Terme. Although it is possible to buy dried products called pici, it should only be called pici when it is fresh. When dry, it is called spaghettone, or fat spaghetti. Aglione is a type of wild garlic, similar to green, or immature, garlic. You can substitute mature garlic but use half the amount.

4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups water
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Pinch of salt
6 large, very ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped
1 small head green garlic (approximately 6 immature cloves), sliced
1 or 2 peperoncini (dry red chiles) to tast
1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

On a wooden board, make a well in the flour. Add the water, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and salt. With your hands, work the flour into the liquid and work the dough to a smooth and homogenous texture. Cut the dough in small pieces and roll with the palm of your hand into a long, round string; this technique is actually called piciare. The thinner the pici, the better.
In a large saucepan, combine the tomatoes, garlic, the remaining olive oil, peperoncini, and parsley. Over medium heat, simmer for 30 to 35 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is very tender (mature garlic will take longer). Season with salt and pepper to taste. Keep warm.
In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the pasta 6 to 8 minutes, until al dente. Toss with the sauce, turn into a warmed serving bowl, and serve at once.
Serves 6

Picture by Joyce Dudkerk-Pool


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