Try your hand at making fresh pasta with no pasta machine, no eggs and only THREE ingredients. Rustic hand-rolled pici – like thick spaghetti – are the best place to start. The process is a bit like playing with Play-Doh (with a much more delicious result!)
Making pasta from scratch is maybe my favourite thing ever to do in the kitchen. There’s just something super therapeutic about creating something completely from nothing – and it’s always miles ahead of the store-bought stuff.
It can be intimidating though. Often you need special types of flour, a pasta machine and special tools, but that is NOT the case with pici. With a lovely chewy texture, this bouncy thick spaghetti-like shape is perfect for beginners. All you need is regular flour, olive oil, water, a little salt and your hands. Just mix your dough, slice strips and roll them out on your countertop. It truly is so easy and such a brilliant place to start with homemade pasta.
Once you’ve made your pici, the world is your oyster in terms of sauces to pair it with. You’ll often see it paired with cacio e pepe (and this is the first way I tried it!) but you can really use it any way you like. It’s great with something nice and saucy – I love it in carbonara or with a creamy spicy sauce, super green sauce, gochujang pasta sauce or you could use it in this gorgeous ‘Marry Me’ chicken fettuccine.
In this post – everything you need to make perfect pici
- Flour. If you have 00 flour, use that, otherwise, regular plain, all-purpose flour is absolutely fine, or you could use strong (bread) flour.
- Olive oil. A little olive oil will help keep the pici dough soft and prevent it from drying out quickly, making it easier to roll out.
- Salt. It’s perhaps not traditional, but I always use a little salt in my pasta dough for extra seasoning.
How to make it
Combine the flour and salt in a mixing bowl, then pour in the water and olive oil. Mix into a rough, shaggy dough (I like using a fork to do this). Go in with your hands to knead it into a rough ball, then transfer it to a lightly floured surface.
Knead the dough for about 5 minutes, until it’s smooth, supple and not sticky to the touch.
Cover it tightly with plastic wrap, then leave the dough to rest for at least 15 minutes (but up to two hours is even better). The longer you leave it, the easier it will be to roll out your pici. This is because it gives a chance for the gluten in the flour to ‘relax’. After resting, the dough will feel softer and look smoother. You can also make the dough the day before you want to roll your pici, then pop it (wrapped) in the fridge.
PRO TIP: If you need any help with kneading, take a look at my post which breaks down how to knead dough, with photos and step-by-step instructions.
Once you’re ready to roll your pici, slice a quarter of the dough off. IMPORTANT: Don’t use any flour on your surface at this point. If you do, you’ll find it incredibly tricky to form your pici. Use a rolling pin to roll it into a thin (roughly 1/4″ thick) piece of dough. Use a sharp knife to slice the dough into strips, roughly 1/2″ wide.
Pick up a strip of dough, then use the palms of your hands to roll it out into a long, thin snake. Move your hands across the strip to roll it evenly. You’ll want to make it a little thinner than you think – the pici will expand as they cook so don’t make them too chunky at this point.
Repeat with the rest of the dough, then dust the pici with LOTS of polenta and flour to stop them from sticking, and bundle into little nests on a lined tray or plate.
Three tips for success
- Make sure you don’t use any flour on your surface when you roll out the pici. You need the stickiness of the countertop or wooden board to roll out your pici. Flour will make it very hard and it will be SUPER annoying (I have made this mistake before!)
- Dust your rolled pici with lots of polenta (or semolina) and flour to prevent them from sticking.
- Roll your pici a little thinner than you think they should be – they’ll expand as they cook so keep that in mind.
Watch how to make pici
Got a question?
Pici is a similar shape to spaghetti – though they’re quite a bit thicker and chewier. They’re also hand-rolled, whereas spaghetti is made with a pasta machine.
I always recommend freezing fresh pasta – it cooks from straight frozen perfectly. Arrange your pici in little nests on a lined tray, then freeze until sold. After that, transfer to ziplock bags to store.
Four ways to use your pici
If you make this recipe, I’d love to hear from you! You can leave me a comment below.Print