Sagne Pasta from Central Italy.
Sagne pasta (also called sagnette) is a traditional homemade pasta, typical of the cuisine of Abruzzo, Molise and parts of Lazio, as well as Salento in Puglia.
The origins of sagne pasta.
Sagne pasta usually looks like short rustic tagliatelle or fettuccine. However, unlike tagliatelle or fettuccine, this pasta contains only water, durum wheat flour and salt. This is very characteristic of pasta which originated in what Italians call ‘la cucina povera’, the kitchen of the poorer classes and peasants. In the past, eggs were mostly kept for special occasions or for barter in the poorer southern and central Italian regions! Today, however, it is not unusual for eggs to be added to sagne dough.
As I mentioned above, the classic form of sagne is rectangular, rather like short tagliatelle. However, there are some variations in shape and name depending on the intended use or area where this pasta is found. But, in general, small strips are sagne or sagnette, whereas larger more square or rhomboid shapes are called sagne a pezze or tacconelle. For many Italians, this type of pasta falls under the umbrella of ‘maltagliata’ pasta, meaning badly cut!
In Lazio, Abruzzo and Molise, sagne pasta is in the list of P.A.T. products. This list is drawn up by the Ministry of Agricultural Food, Forestry and Tourism policies and includes traditional Italian agri-food products.
Traditional recipes with sagne (sagnette).
Once upon a time, sagne was a daily food that people usually paired with legumes. Today, it’s also mostly served in some kind of legume broth or sauce, although I don’t think they eat it every day any more! The most typical Molise recipes for sagne pasta are sagne and cicerchie (grass peas) or sagne and beans, usually borlotti.
In Lazio, particularly around the area of Frosinone and the rest of the Valle Latina, sagne is eaten with beans, often cannellini, and wild asparagus. Here, they hold a sagne and beans festival in October, where sagne and beans are served together with sausage and zampone (stuffed pigs trotters).
In Abruzzo, you can also find sagne with legumes, particularly in a beans and tomato broth. They also eat this pasta without tomatoes but with chickpeas, garlic and herbs, to which pancetta is often added. And, on the coast, they make sagne alla marinara with mussels.
Sagne 'ncannulate (torte)
In Salento, Puglia, they make sagne 'ncannulate or torte. This is basically longer twisted sagne pasta that looks a bit like Sicilian busiate. They traditionally eat this twisted sagne with fresh tomato sauce, basil and cacio-ricotta or with meat sauce (pork or lamb) with the addition of peperoncino (red chilli pepper), to taste. I have had it in Salento with swordfish. Very good!
Dried sagne pasta.
There are a number of companies that make classic dried sagne pasta. Most often they call it sagnette. For example, I know that De Cecco, a company from Abruzzo, make a bio whole wheat version and a normal version. La Molisana, from Molise, also make a dried version. Plus, another company called Giuseppe Cocco, also from Abruzzo, make tacconelle and a wider type of sagne called sagnarelli. The latter I have used in a pasta with lentils recipe which was delicious!
Recipe for homemade sagne.
If you’d like to make your own homemade sagne, check out the first recipe that I have posted with this pasta. This is a chickpea and sagne recipe from Chieti in Abruzzo. I made it with homemade pasta. I cooked some of the sagne in boiling water and some I fried in olive oil. In Italian, this dish is called sagne fritte con ceci or sagne sfritt’e cice in the local dialect. It’s fabulous!