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). (go straight to recipe)
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 passatelli 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’
I have included a recipe just 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. Passatelli can also be baked. Whichever way you choose, I’m sure that like me you will fall in love with this delicious and unusual pasta.
(see the recipe on the next page)