Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
This simple but delicious recipe comes from Tuscany, my adopted homeland. It had been forgotten, like many ancestral recipes which I am happy to revive. It comes from the days when families were so poor that they never threw anything away – not even the bread crumbs that fell onto the table. But imagination and necessity have always worked miracles!
The trick when stretching the pasta as you form it between the palms of your hands is to keep it well floured, since the pasta is quite damp and sticks easily.
To finish, as we say here, a little anchovy flavor has always done the trick. You’ll find anchovy just about everywhere in Italy, in brine, smoked or canned. It’s even an integral part of Piedmontese cooking despite the fact that Piedmont is far from the sea. The tradition was brought there by Spaniards who were fleeing the Inquisition and who stopped in the region. Others favor smoked herring. In Emilia Romagna a smoked herring was always hung over the table so that family members could rub it on a piece of bread to add flavor without much expense.
- Arrange the flour, mixed with the salt, into a well; pour the water into the center; combine everything thoroughly.
- Knead the dough energetically until it is perfectly smooth.
- Sprinkle the dough with flour and roll it out with a rolling pin to a thickness of 5 mm (1/4”).
- Roll up the dough into a long cylinder.
- Cut into 2 cm (3/4”)-wide sections using a floured knife.
- Unroll each spiral of pasta onto your work surface to obtain ribbons.
- Roll each ribbon between the palms of your hands, stretching it to form uneven “spaghetti.” It takes a bit of practice, but the results are spectacular.
- Sprinkle them again with flour, lifting them up to keep them separated.
- Let rest in a cool place, covered with a kitchen towel so the pasta doesn’t dry out.
Sauce and finishing
- Sauté the flattened garlic clove in a skillet with a drizzle of oil; add 2 chopped anchovies and let them “melt”; add the herbs and combine well.
- Quickly cook the spaghetti in boiling salted water, stirring once or twice with a fork to prevent it from sticking together. The pasta should be slightly soft but not yet al dente. The working time here is very important in order for the pasta to be properly cooked.
- Drain the pasta, reserving a little of the cooking water; sauté it in the skillet with the sauce (1) and the bread crumbs.
- Add the 2 remaining anchovies, cut into small cubes, and a little cooking water if necessary (3).
- Season with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil; combine well and serve.
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