Pici alla Pomodoro

Sept. 20, 2023, noon

Pici Senesi pasta is a thick, hand-rolled pasta from Siena in Tuscany, and there is evidence that this pasta dates back to Etruscan times. It's made with just flour, water and sometimes olive oil, and it's super quick and easy to make.
The great thing about this pasta is it's really easy to work with - perfect for beginner pasta makers and kids, or if you're short on time, and it can be served with pretty much any sauce, although it is traditionally served with Casio e Pepe sauce.

Pici Pasta

Makes 4 servings

300 grams flour
2/3 cup warm water
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Put the flour on a clean work surface and make a well in the middle.
Add the olive oil and warm water to the well and incorporate it into the flour using a fork until a rough dough forms.
Once a rough dough has formed, knead the dough for 10 minutes until it’s smooth and elastic. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Without adding any extra flour, roll the dough out into a 1 inch thick round. Next, cut the dough into ¼ inch thick strips.
One at a time, roll each strip out on a clean work surface to resemble thick spaghetti. The pasta needs enough grip to roll, so don’t add any flour or you won’t be able to roll it out. Place each piece of rolled out pici on a tray or separate area dusted with flour or semolina to stop them from sticking.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Once boiling, add the pici pasta and boil for 2-3 minutes then transfer it to your pasta sauce and toss together.

Let the dough rest - it's important to let the dough rest for at least 30 minutes so it'll be softer and easier to work with.
Don't use flour to roll out the Pici - it's really important to not use any flour for rolling the pici or they'll just slide across the surface of your countertop instead of rolling making it impossible to shape them, they need grip.
Measuring flour - for best results use a kitchen scale to weigh the flour. It'll give you perfect dough every time. If you are using cups make sure to spoon the flour into the cups and level it off with a knife, don't pack or scoop the flour.
Make in advance - you can make the dough up to 24 hours in advance and store it in the fridge. 
Freezing - you can freeze the dough wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and foil. Use within one month.

Pici alla Pomodorro

1 lb. cherry tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp. Red pepper flakes
salt to taste
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 fresh basil
1/2 lb Pecorino Toscano Cheese

In a pan heat two tablespoons of EVOO, add two peeled garlic cloves and the red pepper flakes.
Cook until the garlic is golden, then add the tomatoes.
Cook until the tomatoes break apart.
Add the pasta to the sauce. Plate and garnish with fresh basil, EVOO and grated pecorino.

Cacio e Pepe
Makes 4 servings

2 1/2 cups of Pecorino Romano cheese
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil (use less pasta water than you normally would so it's extra starchy).
Finely grate the pecorino into a small mixing bowl, set aside.
Put the freshly ground pepper in a large dry pan on a medium heat, toast the pepper for a few seconds.
After a few seconds, add ½ cup of pasta water and let it simmer as the pasta is cooking.
Add a few ladles of pasta water to the pecorino cheese just a little at a time until it has the consistency of loose creamy paste (a little thicker than heavy cream, it won’t be super smooth).
When the pasta is about 2 minutes away from being cooked, transfer it to the pan with the pepper using tongs and stir it for about 1 minute to release more starch.
Next, turn the heat down to low and add the pecorino mixture. Stir it continuously until a smooth and creamy cheese sauce is created. It will look like it's going to split at first, but keep stirring and it'll turn into a smooth and creamy sauce. Once you reach the saucy consistency turn the heat off and keep stirring for 1 more minute to let it thicken.