Making hand-rolled Pici Pasta is so easy, it's the first pasta shape I recommend trying to make when learning pasta making. It can be done with kids, too! Learn to make this traditional Tuscan pasta with this comprehensive step-by-step guide.
When people think about making fresh homemade pasta, they always think it's a long and laborious process, but it's actually quite easy and fun once you have the right recipe and follow the right steps.
For more details on fresh pasta, check out this guide on how to make 10 different pasta shapes without a pasta machine.
Tuscan Pici is one of the easiest pasta shapes to make and is the best way to approach pasta making for the first time. The most traditional Pici recipes in Tuscany are Pici Cacio e Pepe, and Pici all'Aglione (Garlic Tomato sauce). But they're also delicious with Classic Tuscan Ragù.
What are Pici
Pici (pronounced Pee-chee), are also called "Pici Senesi" or "Pici Toscani" because they originate from the province of Siena in Tuscany (my hometown).
They're thick long spaghetti, very similar to the Japanese Udon noodles but with more bite.
Pici are made with only flour and water but when made in large quantities, an egg can also be added to make the dough more kneadable.
To make Pasta you only need 2 or 3 ingredients, but some are more important than others. Read below the information on each.
- All Purpose Flour. This is the most important ingredient to make pasta. All Purpose flour is used for egg pasta and Pici pasta because it's very flexible. You can make Pici also with 100% All Purpose flour, without Semolina, but personally, I prefer the texture of both flours mixed together in equal quantity.
- Semolina Flour. Fine semolina flour (Semola rimacinata) is usually used to make eggless pasta, such as Cavatelli, Trofie, or Orecchiette, all short-cut pasta that doesn't need to be stretched thin. Pici are the only exception being a long-cut pasta shape because they need both Semolina for consistency and All Purpose for flexibility.
- Olive Oil. Oil and salt are not really important to make handmade pasta and you can also skip them without majorly impacting the end result. But I like to add a tiny drizzle of oil and a pinch of salt to the dough.
See the recipe card for quantities.
In a large bowl, add the all-purpose flour, fine semolina flour, salt, and a drizzle of olive oil.
Mix all the ingredients and add the water a little bit at a time, until the dough comes together, then knead it with your hands into a ball.
Roll the pasta on a cutting board, then cut it into thick strips.
Roll each strip with the palms of your hands to make the pici pasta shape. Boil the pasta for 2-3 minutes in salted water.
Hint: It's not necessary to rest Pici pasta, but you can leave it to rest on a clean towel dusted with flour for a few hours or overnight. The longer you leave it to dry, the longer it will take to cook, so make sure to taste and adjust the cooking time accordingly.
What sauce to pair with Pici pasta
Pici work well with creamy and smooth sauces, either tomato-based or not.
- Tomato Sauce - Try the classic garlic tomato sauce from Pici all'Aglione, or a classic Italian Tomato Sauce, Spicy Arrabbiata Sauce, or a delicious Amatriciana Sauce with guanciale and onion.
- Cheese Sauce - A delicious and classic Cacio e Pepe, or even a flavorful Four Cheese Sauce, or a simple Parmesan Cream sauce.
- Ragù - The most traditional and most loved pairing in Tuscany. A classic Tuscan Ragù, or even a more challenging game ragù like Wild Boar Ragù, or Ragù di Nana (duck ragù).
- Mushrooms - During mushroom season you can taste Pici with delicious Porcini mushrooms, wild mushrooms, or Boscaiola sauce with mushrooms and bacon.
- Breadcrumbs - Sugo alle Briciole is another traditional way to serve Pici. With sourdough breadcrumbs, anchovies, garlic, olive oil, and Pecorino cheese.
You basically don't need any equipment to make Pici pasta, but here are some tools that can make the process easier:
- Wooden Pastry Board. A large wooden board is very useful in making pasta, it's perfect to knead the dough and has enough space to roll it. The peculiarity of this type of board is that it blocks on the table edge so it doesn't slide when you use it.
- Pasta Cutter. Pasta is stretchy and cutting strips or shapes with a knife would be quite difficult. A pasta wheel it's super handy as it cuts pasta effortlessly.
- Pasta Drying Rack. If you don't have much surface space to let the pasta rest on a clean towel, you can use this drying rack to hang the pasta.
- Rolling Pin. Pasta rolling pins are long and thin, but you can use any standard pastry rolling pin to roll pasta by hand.
- Pasta Machine. If instead, you want to roll pasta without much effort, you can use the classic pasta machine. There are also electric pasta machines or Kitchenaid extensions.
Eggless pasta, like Pici, can be air-dried for a few hours or even days. Use a pasta drying rack or let it sit on a clean towel until you're ready to cook it. Keep in mind that the longer you dry it, the longer it will take to cook (fully dried Pici can take up to 15 minutes to cook). So taste and adjust the cooking time accordingly.
You can also freeze uncooked fresh pasta. Make the Pici into loose nests and place the nests on a tray to freeze for about an hour so they don't stick to each other. After 1 hour, you can move them to a freezer bag or container for up to 6 months. Toss the frozen pasta directly into boiling water and boil for 4-5 minutes.
💭 FAQ & Tips
Yes, you can make Pici pasta in advance and either air-dry it by letting it rest on a pasta drying rack or on a clean towel dusted with flour. Or you can freeze it for up to 6 months.
Yes, you can freeze all types of pasta. First, lay it on a tray and freeze it for an hour so it doesn't stick into a pasta mass. Then you can transfer the frozen pasta to a freezer bag for up to 6 months. Toss the frozen pasta directly into boiling water and cook for 2-3 minutes longer.
All kinds of sauces can be paired with Pici. Scroll up on the post to find a list of the most classic and best sauces to pair with Pici.
If you struggle with sticky pasta, always keep some flour by hand. Dust your hands, board, and rolling pin with plain flour while you work the dough. When the pasta is ready, dust it with semolina flour before letting it rest on the towel. Semolina flour will prevent the pasta from sticking to itself, but also leave a more pleasant texture when cooked, while a coat of plain flour on the pasta will leave a slightly slimy texture.
Related Recipes you might like
Looking for other recipes like this? Try these:
- 3 oz All Purpose Flour
- 3 oz Semolina Flour
- Olive Oil
- Mix the two flours in a large bowl and drizzle a little bit of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Slowly add some water and start mixing with your hands, adding more water a little bit at a time until the dough starts coming together.
- After a few minutes of kneading, you should have a round soft ball, which is not crumbly nor sticky.
- Cover the dough ball in plastic wrap and set aside to rest for about 15 minutes.
- To make the Pici, roll the pasta dough and cut it into strips, then roll them with both your hands on the cutting board to get the thick pasta strings. Try to keep the same thickness on the whole lenght, to cook it uniformly.
- To cook, toss the Pici in a large pot of boiling salted water and boil for 3-4 minutes. Drain and serve with the sauce of choice.
Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.