The Two Francesca's

It’s been a busy week for us at D.O.P. Kitchen, spending time with one of our dear friends from Bologna who was in Santa Monica on holiday. While she was here, we of course had to make pasta – Francesca T.’s (yes, we are both Francesca!) family runs a successful gourmet tour business in Emilia-Romagna and they are pros, guiding novices and professionals alike (flour + water’s James Beard nominated Thomas McNaughton credits them in his cookbook). Check out the link below for more information on their company, Bluone - I wouldn't go to Italy without touring with the Tori's!

We decided to prepare strozzapreti, as we were running low on time and high on hunger. The name of this pasta literally means “priest stranglers,” which I find ironic and slightly hilarious for such a Catholic country as Italy. Oh, the blasphemy!

There are several anecdotes taking responsibility for this shape's title – gluttonous priests were so interested in the pasta that they ate it too quickly and choked; you kind of make a strangling motion as you form the noodles; angered wives would hope that the church landowners coming to collect rent would choke on the meal and not be able to receive payment…you get the picture.

We followed the traditional recipe from Romagna: ‘OO’ flour and water. Unlike most of the pasta we make from this part of Italy, there are no eggs in this dough. 

Francesca T. kneading the dough.

Francesca T. kneading the dough.

We let the pasta rest while we ran down to the bluffs in Santa Monica to catch the sunset – this was of course, Francesca T.’s holiday. We returned home, poured ourselves glasses of white wine, put on some music and got to rolling out the dough.

Francesca T. rolling out half of the dough, in the traditional method, by hand.

Francesca T. rolling out half of the dough, in the traditional method, by hand.

Francesca T. cut the pasta into equal sized strips (about ½ inch) and then one by one, we gently twisted the strips and pinched them into corkscrew shaped pieces. Unlike for example spaghetti or penne, this pasta does not have to be uniform in size or shape so it’s perfect for beginners.

Francesca T. and Mamma D. shaping the strozzapreti.

Francesca T. and Mamma D. shaping the strozzapreti.

When we were ready to eat, we boiled a big pot of water and dropped the noodles in for about 3-4 minutes and tossed them with a quickly made sauce of prosciutto, cream and passata (tomato puree). We finished the sauce with a large handful of Maggie’s Farms’ wild arugula, torn into pieces.

Ready to eat!

Ready to eat!

A big bowl of homemade pasta, a glass of red wine, great friends. Nights like these remind us that a good meal is not necessarily about fancy ingredients or complicated techniques – it is about making something out of nothing and sharing it with the people you love.

Check out bluone.com for more information on Francesca T.’s family’s wine and culinary tours in Italy.