Pici (Or: Handmade Pasta For Idiots)

September 19, 2013 | By | COMMENTS


For those of you who aspire to make pasta at home but don’t have the time or the will or the resources (like, a pasta machine), here’s a recipe for you. It’s called Pici and it’s one of the more satisfying things I’ve made for dinner in recent memory. You may be thinking: “Adam, didn’t you just post a pasta recipe two days ago?” It’s true; and on this particular week when I made the pici, I’d only had that other pasta dinner three days earlier. But watching David Chang’s Mind Of A Chef on PBS (a pretty excellent show), I started to get a hankering for noodles. In Japan, people eat noodles all the time; why couldn’t I have noodles for dinner a second time in one week? Damn it, I deserve it! Only these noodles–ah, pasta (Michael White yelled at me for calling pasta “noodles” once)–would be handmade and would only take me 15 minutes. Don’t believe me?

Look, I’ll show you. I found the recipe on L.A. Magazine’s site. You start by stirring together 3 cups of all-purpose flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt:


Add 1/2 large egg beaten to blend and 1 cup of room temperature water.


Work that together and knead in the bowl until you have a ball that’s smooth (about 5 minutes).


Flatten it, rub it with olive oil, wrap in plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes. (Ok, ok, I know I said it would only take 15 minutes but I meant 15 minutes of work. During this part you can go watch TV or something).

While it’s resting, start making your tomato sauce. I sautéed half an onion in olive oil until translucent, then added 3 or 4 cloves of sliced garlic, some chopped thyme and a dash of red pepper flakes.


To that, add a 28 ounce can of San Marzano tomatoes and a pinch of salt. Break the tomatoes up with a wooden spoon, turn up the heat and allow to bubble away and reduce while you make your pici.

If you’ve ever played with Play-Dough, you can make pici. All you do is cut the dough in half, then cut that half into strips (about a 1/2-inch wide) and roll each strip into a snake. See?


Toss the snakes with a little flour on a plate until you’re done.


There you are: homemade pici.

Now bring a pot of water to a boil with a good amount of salt and drop it in to cook.


Because it’s handmade, it won’t take very long. After 2 or 3 minutes, lift a piece of pici out with tongs and taste. You want it al dente, but not raw. When it’s just there, lift all of the pici into the pan with the tomato sauce.


Turn up the heat and toss all around with the tongs.


Mmmm…I’m drooling just looking at that picture and I’m the one who actually got to eat it. At the very end, drizzle with olive oil and add a handful of grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese tossing all around. Then lift with tongs into bowls and sprinkle with even more cheese.


So now those of you too timid to make homemade pasta have no excuse. This is pici and it’s about to enter your life in a big way.

Tags: , , , ,

Categories: Pasta and Risotto, Recipes

  • Rummy

    this is the most fascinating thing i’ve seen in a while.

  • http://www.nomnomcat.com/ Alice @ Nom Nom Cat

    Yum!!! I’ll have to try this hand rolled pasta! Looks so good and comforting, especially as the weather is cooling off. Bon appetito~!

  • Val in MN

    OMYum! Gotta try this! Only “Half” an egg?

  • Matt

    Looks great from your pictures. FYI, your link to the original is busted.

  • Thomas

    This looks great. Very similar to spaetzle, just bigger. I would brown them in a bit of butter before adding them to the sauce, as I would spaetzle.

  • Meghanssj

    This is very exciting news!

  • Patty

    Adam, only 1/2 an egg? Is that a typo? Thanks!

  • Adam Amateur Gourmet

    Not a typo…that’s what the recipe says!

  • Adam Amateur Gourmet

    Fixed! Thanks for letting me know.

  • http://www.LynnChen.com/ Lynn Chen

    I adore pici! When we had it in Tuscany we called it “Spaghetti on Steroids.”

  • Karen in Dallas

    I might have to do this tomorrow!

  • Ellen

    Do you think the pasta would freeze well?

  • Tal Pomeroy

    Looks delicious, I love homemade

  • Erin B.

    Does it matter if the egg is cold or room temp?

  • http://wee-eats.com/ natalie @ wee eats

    i like when something is ‘for idiots’ because it makes me feel like i can do it ^_^

  • Adam Amateur Gourmet


  • Adam Amateur Gourmet

    Shouldn’t matter.

  • Fanny_Trollope

    Love it. Pasta’s one of those things that can be very refined or very rustic. This is the rough-and-tumble version! I’m going to try cutting down the water and adding tomato paste; I’ve been craving tomato pasta. Wish me luck!

  • Robert Kollman

    I’ll have to give this a try, another homemade pasta I like to make is gnocchi !!

  • janice

    Adam, any ideas on how this would translate to whole wheat flour?

  • Misty Harvey

    Looks tasty!

  • Adam Amateur Gourmet

    My hunch is that it wouldn’t work as well, but I’m not a fan of whole wheat pasta to begin with. Maybe do a search?

  • Anonymous

    Nice! You should LIVE broadcast how to make your recipes on the new LIVE platform: http://www.catchmyworld.com -
    I personally share my travel trips LIVE via the iPhone app ‘catchmyworld’: it is nice to connect with like minded people via LIVE video.

  • Thiruveedhi THIRUVEEDHI TSRN

    A calorie based diet, Good.

  • Rebecca

    How many servings would you say this made?

  • Adam Amateur Gourmet


  • Katy

    Made this pici tonight with a mushroom-tomato-creme fraiche ragu. In 90 minutes (most of which was downtime), I had a killer meal — and there are lots of leftovers. Thanks Adam!

  • Anonymous

    As usual ;)

  • Dave Sherburne

    Another no-brainer noodle recipe
    1 cup flour 5 oz.
    1 egg. Large
    1/2 tsp. salt
    Milk. 1/2 of the egg shell

    Mix ingredients well
    Place on floured work surface and knead untill not sticky.
    I use a noodle maker to make Fettuccine but you can make any kind of noodle with the dough.

    Note. Put milk in half of the egg shell, I use the larger half.

  • Donna M. Young

    I can not wait to make this! It looks so good!

  • Donovan

    Thanks to your post, I doubled the recipe and had a small pasta-making party at my place last night. It was delicious, and good fun as well. I just wish the pasta had been a little bit more salty – but that’s perhaps my fault for not having any parmesan around the house.

  • Lisa

    I made this last night and my kids and husband ate 2 helpings each. The sauce was great, but I think that they liked the appearance of the pasta which would be a great Halloween dish. It really looked like albino dreadlocks or maybe cave worms.

  • olayanju femi

    two WHAT

  • Brigham

    So I’m giving this a shot. First problem: the dough was really sticky (and I didn’t even add all the water), and became more so as I kneaded it. I ended up adding quire a bit more flour. It’s resting now, but is this what’s supposed to happen?

  • Adam Amateur Gourmet

    All flour acts differently, you we’re right to adjust. Just don’t make the dough too dry (wetter is better). Good luck!

  • Brigham

    Thanks. Humidity is also a factor. Next time I’ll start with 1/2 cup water and add more as needed. They turned out okay; they tended to flatten out as they sat, which might indicate that the dough could have been kneaded longer. I really want to be able to do a very easy homemade pasta as an anti-Barilla statement.

  • Gavin Ireland

    I had this with all kinds of different sauces whilst in Tuscany. Couldn’t get enough of it. In some places they don’t even use egg at all; Just flour and water.

  • Giovanna

    The pasta shown in the above pictures is really made by an idiot! Pici must be thiner! The dought must be stretched with a rolling pin up to a tickness of two millimeters, then cutted into stripes of one centimeter. Each stripe must be rolled until it takes a spaghetti shape!

  • Slapdash Gourmet

    I agree with Giovanna that the noodles look too thick, but my bigger confusion is that there’s egg in the dough. When I had it in Tuscany I was told that pici is specifically an eggless pasta.

  • JC

    There is nothing idiotic about making pici – and in Italy, pici is made without eggs.

  • kazymyr

    I usually make the dough a bit on the drier side, then while I’m kneading it I dip my fingers of the hand I’m kneading with every once in a while in a cup of water and let the dough take water this way as it needs it. When it starts getting a bit sticky I stop dipping.

  • Caz

    Whoa, harsh – at least he gave it a go.
    And seemed pretty happy with the result.
    I’m all for people making food from scratch and getting better with experience [and encouragement!]