Passatelli: an unusual type of pasta!
I only recently discovered passatelli, probably because they’re not typical in many parts of Italy. Although you can find them in Marche and Lazio, they are considered to be essentially Romagnolo (from Emilia-Romagna).
I came across them whilst doing research for my blog and my first reaction was that I absolutely had to do them myself! I went out to buy the tool used to make them, which Italians call ‘il ferro di passatelli’ (passatelli iron). This is actually a handheld press with holes, similar to a spaetzle maker. Passatelli are traditionally served in broth but there are many other recipes for them. First time round I decided to skip the broth making stage and bake them (after cooking them in stock) with pine nuts, ham and cheese. They were delicious and I fell in love, so lots of pasatelli recipes to come at a later stage!
Although passetelli are not made with flour they are classified as a type of pasta. These soft, normally homemade strands of breadcrumbs, grated cheese and eggs are an ancient tradition, born in the rural low income areas where leftovers and simple foods like stale bread, cheese, eggs were used often to create tasty dishes.
In the past Passatelli were considered a special dish because they were made with white bread; The original recipe called for breadcrumbs and parmesan in equal measure, but in the homes of the wealthy more parmesan was used, whilst in the homes of the poor more bread!
Although passatelli appear to be simple to make because of the few ingredients required, a certain amount of skill and practice is needed to get the dough to the right consistency, If the dough isn’t right then the pasatelli will fall apart quickly when passed thorough the press and dropped into the broth or they won’t pass properly through the press. In order to get a good dough you have to use normal white bread, well dried and finely grated. and the ingredients must be blended with care, until you get a compact and good texture dough. The dough needs to ‘rest’ for at least two hours before being pressed through the passatelli ‘iron’
Below I have included a recipe for making passatelli. You can choose to cook and serve them in an already made beef, chicken or even fish broth or cook them in stock and then serve with other ingredients. Whichever way you choose, I’m sure that like me you will fall in love with this delicious and unusual pasta.
- 120 grms of white breadcrumbs.
- 120 grms grated parmesan cheese
- 3 medium eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon of grated nutmeg or lemon rind
- Prepared broth or stock
- Mix the breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese together in a bowl.
- Add a pinch of salt
- Add the grated nutmeg or lemon rind (as desired).
- Beat the eggs and add them to the bread and cheese mixture.
- Mix the ingredients together (preferrably with your hands) until the dough becomes quite elastic and compact. If it is too wet add more breadcrumbs. If too dry you can add some of the stock or broth you plan to cook the passatelli in.
- Roll the dough into a large ball, wrap it in clingfilm and leave it to 'rest' at room temperature for at least 2 hours.
- Bring your broth or stock to the boil
- When you are ready to cook the passatelli, remove the clingfilm and place the dough on a floured surface.
- Take large pieces of the dough and press through the passatelli iron. As the passatelli come out of the press you will have to use a knife to remove them.
- You can drop them straight into the boiling broth/stock or onto a previously floured surface and then add them to the broth/stock after they are all made.
- Allow them to cook until they all rise to the surface (approx 5 minutes)
- If you are serving them in broth, serve immediately.
- If you are going to add passatelli to other ingredients, remove them from the stock with a slotted spoon and add to the pre-prepared sauce or ingredients and then continue according to the recipe you are following. I'll be adding other passatelli recipes and a recipe for broth for you to try very soon.