Saturday, November 15, 2008


A few days ago I wrote about truffle hunting with the BIANCONI's, but it was so much more than that. After we toured Citerna, we returned to the Bianconi's house for cooking lessons. While we watched Gabriella fix our lunch, we also learned lots of interesting tips and recipes.

One of the most interesting things for me was the pasta Gabriella made. The pasta itself is called frascarelli, and originally it was made with flour and water, back when eggs were a luxury for many people. Using eggs definitely makes this pasta richer, and it's so simple you might decide to make pasta even if you've never done so before. There's no hand mixing the flour and eggs, no rolling the dough or even putting it through a pasta machine.

Gabriella started out with half flour, half semolina, the golden, slightly coarser flour that's used here in Italy for pasta. I'd never heard of semolina before we moved to Italy, except as a type of flour. I'm not really sure if it's readily available in U.S. supermarkets, but surely specialty food shops carry it....or at least I hope they do! I like using at least part semolina when I make pasta because I think it makes the dough less sticky, and I'm sure there are many reasons, some traditional and others scientific to explain why you should use a blend. For now let's just go with these reasons: Gabriella said to do it this way and I've tasted the results, which were delicious. Why argue with experience or success?

Combine regular all purpose flour with semolina....I'm going to take a guess here and suggest using a generous amount of each, about 1 cup of each flour for six servings. Since I haven't yet made the recipe myself it's hard to know for sure. Using one egg for every two people to be served, whisk the eggs into a medium bowl. (To recap, that's a total of 2 cups flour and 3 eggs for 6 servings) Now comes the fun part.

Gabriella used what I would describe as a whisk broom (you can see it in the video), but you can also use a fork, or maybe even a silicone brush, which is what I'm going to use. Dip the broom/fork/whatever into the beaten eggs then drizzle the eggs over the flour, back and forth. Mix gently with your fingers or a fork. After three, maybe four drizzles, set your large sifter on an even larger tray and sift away.

Gabriella used a large setaccio (sifter) to separate the clumped up egg and flour pieces from the flour that was still loose. Once all the loose flour was sifted through, the process was repeated until all the eggs were finished. In the end you'll have tiny pieces of pasta, no bigger than grains of rice, and, not surprisingly, it will cook VERY quickly!

Frascarelli Pasta with TrufflesCook in salted boiling water until the pasta floats, which will probably be just a minute. Drain. Gabriella then added some sliced celery she'd quickly sauteed and some summer truffles preserved in oil. She must have placed each serving in some sort of small container to give it it's shape, then simply inverted the container onto the plate. A few shaving if truffles on the top completed the dish. This was such a wonderful pasta: freshly made, simple to prepare, and absolutely delicious!

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At 11/15/2008 03:57:00 AM , Anonymous martha said...

The brush/tool that Chinese use to clean a wok would probably work to make this pasta. Very interesting. I've never seen it before.


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