This is an attempt to recreate an incredible bowl of pasta I ate in Tuscany. Try to buy pre-shelled pistachios as shelling them yourself is not fun. When shaping the pici, use a wood or stainless steel surface. This will help create friction, allowing you to roll the dough into long noodles.
Pici with pistachios
For the pici:
220g plain flour
130g semolina flour
a generous pinch of salt
1 tbsp olive oil
35g shelled, unsalted pistachios, ground into a powder
35g pecorino cheese, finely grated
- Whisk the two flours and the salt together in a bowl then tip onto a clean work surface and shape into a mound with a well in the middle. Pour the oil into the well, then slowly add about 175ml water, making sure it doesn’t spill over the edges. Using a fork or your fingertips, gradually stir the flour into the well until you have a shaggy dough. You may not need to use all the water and you certainly won’t need to use all the flour. Push any excess flour to the sides and bring the dough together. Knead for 8 minutes until the dough is smooth and springs back when you poke it. It should be slightly tacky. Let it rest under a damp cloth for an hour.
- In the meantime, prepare your workstation. Put the excess flour into a shallow bowl and use some of it to lightly dust your work surface. Line a large tray with baking paper and dust it generously with flour. Have a small bowl of olive oil and a damp cloth ready.
- When the dough has finished resting, roll it out into a rectangle about half a centimetre thick. Rub the top of it with oil to stop it drying out, then cut out a 2cm-wide strip lengthways. Using your hands, roll it into a long thin noodle. Work from one end to the other, gradually coiling it into the bowl of flour. It helps to moisten your hands from time to time by pressing them gently on the oiled piece of dough. Once the noodle is finished, toss it thoroughly in flour then drape it around your hand to form a little nest. Add the nest to the floured tray and cover with the damp cloth. Repeat this process until you have used all the dough.
- Bring a pan of generously salted water to the boil and add the pici. Cook until al dente then drain, reserving some of the pasta water. You want at least two ladlefuls.
- Melt the butter with a splash of olive oil in a wide saucepan, then add the ground pistachios. Stir until the powder and butter amalgamate, then add most of the pasta water. Bring to the boil then turn down to a simmer, stirring vigorously to bring it together. Add the pasta, coat it in the sauce, then add the grated pecorino. Toss the noodles furiously until the sauce has emulsified, adding extra pasta water if it becomes too dry. Season with black pepper and more salt if necessary then slurp up the green worms.