Pici all’aglione is thick, hand-rolled pasta, tossed in a simple and delicious tomato garlic sauce. Kenny and I first tasted this Tuscan pasta dish in its birthplace, Siena. The thick pasta noodles (Pici, pronounced pee-chee) were perfectly al-dente and coated in a beautiful garlic, tomato sauce (aka aglione sauce). I never knew something so simple, with so few ingredients could be so delectable!
We found a lovely grocery store on our way back to our AirBnB and I replicated the recipe the very next day, using an empty wine bottle to roll out the dough.
I’ve been longing to develop this recipe since we’ve been back in the states. For the pasta I wanted to use ingredients, like all-purpose flour, that American cooks can easily access and made a few adjustments to the traditional recipe to make it as fail-proof as possible.
Since I used all-purpose flour, instead of semolina or type 00 flour, I added eggs and olive oil. This made the pasta dough more forgiving and added some fat and flavor.
To create the sauce I wanted to replicate the fresh tomato flavor of Tuscan produce. I used canned Cento brand San Marzano tomatoes imported from the mother country. Aglione sauce is very simple and uses just a handful of ingredients so it’s important to use the highest quality ingredients available to you. You can find canned San Marzano tomatoes at most specialty stores or order them online.
The best way to approach this recipe:
Prepare the dough up to one night and at least 2 hours before serving this dish.
When the dough has rested and is ready to be rolled, prepare the sauce.
Simmer the sauce on low while you shape the pasta.
By the time your pasta is ready to be cooked the sauce will have simmered long enough to be especially flavorful!
Don’t let the fear of making homemade pasta deter you from trying this recipe. You can use any store-bought spaghetti (bucatini would work well) and cook up the super simple aglione sauce to coat the noodles. It’s so delicious on its own and I love being able to keep all of the ingredients on hand!
Thick hand rolled pasta coated with a simple garlic, tomato sauce. A taste of Tuscany made in your own kitchen!
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3 whole eggs
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
Up to ¼ cup warm water (the amount of water you use will vary)
3 tablespoons olive oil
8 large cloves garlic, smashed and cut into big pieces
2, 28-ounce cans San Marzano tomatoes
¼ – ½ teaspoon chili flakes
Fresh basil and parmesan cheese for garnish
Clean off a large work surface (marble slab, clean countertop, or large wooden cutting board will work).
Pile the flour on the work surface into a mound. Make a well in the center of the flour and add the eggs, olive oil, salt, and 1 Tablespoon of water. Use a fork to mix the eggs and eggs with the water and oil.
Once the eggs and liquid are combined, continue to mix, adding in a little bit of flour from the mound until the liquid and flour are fully combined.
When you can no longer mix the dough with a fork, use your hands to gather the dough and begin to knead the dough.
If the dough feels very dry add a tablespoon of water at a time. If the dough is sticking to the work surface, dust the dough and surface with flour and continue to knead.
Knead the dough for 10-20 minutes until it is smooth.
Form the dough into a ball and wrap with plastic wrap.
Let the dough rest on the counter for 1 hour or in the refrigerator for up to one day.
If you refrigerate the dough, let it come to room temperature for 20 minutes before shaping.
After the dough has rested, remove the plastic wrap and cut the ball into two even sized pieces.
Use a rolling pin to shape each piece of dough into a 1 inch thick rectangle. Cut the dough into thin pieces.
Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll each piece in between your hands and the work surface (moving your hands from the center out) into a long pasta strand until it is thinner than a pencil but not so thin that it breaks. Make sure the dough you’re not working with is always covered with plastic wrap so that it doesn’t dry out.
Set the finished pici strand aside and continue rolling the rest of the dough. The pici strands do not have to be uniform, texture makes the dish look rustic and allows the pasta to really hold on to the sauce.
Continue rolling one piece of pici at a time until you’ve rolled all the dough.
Lay the pici strands side by side and leave uncovered at room temperature for up to 1 hour. Make sure the sauce is prepared before cooking the pasta.
In a large saucepan or shallow dutch oven combine the olive oil and garlic and heat over medium-low heat until the garlic is fragrant and beginning to lightly brown, 5-8 minutes. Make sure the heat is low enough that the garlic doesn’t burn or turn too dark – this will make your sauce bitter.
While the oil and garlic are heating up, empty the canned tomatoes into a large bowl and use clean hands to crush the tomatoes.
Add the crushed tomatoes and chili flakes to the pan with the garlic and continue to cook over medium heat until the sauce begins to bubble, about 5 minutes.
Lower the heat until the sauce is gently simmering.
Simmer the sauce uncovered, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until it is thick and flavorful, at least 30 minutes.
If you’re simmering the sauce for a long time, add some water if it becomes too thick or starts to burn on the bottom.
Season the sauce only when you’re done simmering. Start with ½ teaspoon salt and add up to 1 teaspoon more to achieve desired flavor.
Cook the pasta:
To cook the pasta, bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the fresh pasta to the hot water (do this in batches to avoid clumping) and boil until the pasta starts to float, 2-3 minutes. Test to be sure the pasta is al dente (cooked through but has a bite in the center).
Remove the cooked pasta from the water using tongs and place directly into the pan of aglione sauce.
Continue to cook the rest of the fresh pasta.
Gently toss the pasta and sauce together in the pan and divide into four or five serving dishes. Top with fresh basil and grated parmesan cheese. Serve immediately, preferably with crusty bread to soak up the extra sauce.
To store uncooked, shaped pasta dust noodles with flour to prevent sticking and place in a large zip-top plastic bag. Store the pasta in the refrigerator for 2 days or in the freezer up to 2 weeks.