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Author Notes: This recipe is adapted from the cult-worthy dish at Padella in London's Borough Market. What this dish lacks in aesthetic appeal it makes up for in luscious, savory sauce and perfectly imperfect tangles of hand-rolled noodles. It's the perfect project for a Friday night in or a Sunday afternoon, or, if you're feeling ambitious, an excellent date activity. I recommend serving alongside a sharp green salad and some bread for wiping up every bit of the sauce. Every. Bit. —Catherine Lamb
- 1 1/4 cups semolina flour (200 grams)
- 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour (220 grams), or more as needed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup water (200 milliliters)
- Mix the flours and salt in a large bowl (or on a clean worksurface). Make a well in the center and add the olive oil and water. Combine ingredients (or mix by hand) until a rough dough forms.
- If mixing in a bowl, turn dough out onto worksurface. Knead for 10 minutes, adding more flour to keep dough from sticking, until it is smooth, elastic, and doesn't easily tear when you pull it apart. Don't skimp on this step! Alternatively, you can knead it for 10 minutes with a dough hook, but that's not as fun.
- Wrap dough tightly with plastic wrap and let it rest for one hour, giving the gluten time to relax. Alternatively, you can put the wrapped dough in the fridge overnight -- just let it come back to room temperature before forming the noodles. When the hour is almost up, set a large pot of salted water on the stove to boil.
- Once dough is rested, unwrap it and cut it in half. This recipe only requires half of the dough, so store the rest to make at a future time. [Dough will last for several days tightly wrapped in the fridge.] On a clean wood or stainless steel surface (textured work surfaces help with the rolling process), pat dough into a rectangle. Using a knife or dough cutter, slice off a thin piece of dough (around 15 grams, if you're weighing), keeping the remaining dough covered with a damp towel. Begin to roll out the dough with your fingers, starting in the middle and working towards the outside. Think of when you used to make play dough worms as a little kid. The noodles should be about the thickness of a pencil. If they're a little uneven, don't sweat it!
- Place rolled noodles lengthwise on a floured tray to avoid sticking. Continue until all the dough has been noodle-ified.
Golden Garlic, Pecorino & Marjoram Sauce
- 1/4 cup flavorless oil, such as sunflower (50 milliliters)
- 1 garlic clove, finely minced
- 1 tablespoon black pepper, coarsely ground
- 1 teaspoon marjoram (or thyme), finely chopped
- 1 cup pecorino cheese, finely grated (40 grams)
- butter (if needed)
- In a large saucepan, heat garlic and oil together, stirring continuously, until oil begins to turn golden at the edges. Immediately pour through a fine metal sieve into heatproof bowl or measuring cup. Turn out garlic onto a paper towel and reserve.
- Drop the pici noodles into the boiling, salted water and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until the noodles are al dente but not gummy. When pasta is ready, reserve one cup of cooking water (VERY IMPORTANT) and then drain the noodles.
- Meanwhile, in the same saucepan you used to cook the garlic, heat two tablespoons of the infused oil, the black pepper, and the marjoram over medium-high heat. Add in 3/4 cup of the pasta cooking water and stir vigorously with metal tongs or chopsticks until it begins to emulsify. Dump in the pici noodles and stir stir stir until the sauce is glossy and coats the noodles thickly. [If you're having trouble getting everything to emulsify, toss in a tablespoon of butter. Not very authentic, but it works every time.] If sauce becomes dry, gradually add more cooking water. Take the pan off the heat.
- Sprinkle the pecorino cheese over the hot noodles and let it sit a minute. Once it begins to melt, stir the noodles vigorously until the cheese melts uniformly throughout the sauce becomes even glossier. Fold in the golden garlic bits.
- Divide noodles into bowls or plates and eat immediately with great, messy gusto.