Pincinelle are a pasta speciality from the Marche region, a favourite with tomato sauce and Pecorino cheese. As is the case with many popular dishes of the Italian regions, the primo piatto dish was created quite by chance: in this case while baking bread.
The practical women of Sassoferato
Pincinelle originate from Sassoferrato near Ancona, known to historians for the victory of the Romans over the Samnites and Gauls (295 BC). On the other hand, those more interested in culinary matters will encounter a special kind of pasta fresca. In Sassoferrato, as elsewhere, it was customary to bake bread once a week. The women came up with an efficient plan: in order not to waste time in the kitchen on baking day, part of the bread dough was put aside. The pincinelle formed from it were then cooked like pasta and, like baking bread, became a weekly ritual.
Bread sourdough Pasta fresca
In the Marche, besides pincinelle, you will also encounter cordelle, pencianelle, pence, surci or monfricoli. Depending on the village, the name of the freshly made pasta from bread dough changes, and it is always prepared a little differently. A variety of flours are used, as well as different leavening agents: sourdough, yeast or wild yeast (sourdough starter), which is further processed with flour and water to make the pasta mixture. So if you like to bake bread yourself and often, why not think about a possible lunch or dinner next time?
- 200 g durum wheat flour, pasta semolina
- 100 g water
- 100 g starter, active - sourdough, refreshed with 100 g flour and 50 ml water - 50% hydration
- Knead all the ingredients for the dough well. Place in a bowl, cover with a cloth or plastic wrap. Poke small holes in the plastic wrap, because the dough should be able to breathe. Leave to rise at normal room temperature for 3-4 hours, or until the dough has doubled in size.
- Now form approx. 5 mm thin rolls from the dough and cut into 5-10 cm long pieces. Cook the bigoli (pasta pieces) in plenty of salted water for 3-5 minutes, depending on their thickness. Strain and serve with tomato sauce and grated Pecorino. Pincinelle also taste great with fresh vegetables fried in olive oil, for example with green asparagus or with a summery Caprese sauce – as in the picture.
And if you don’t have any sourdough already prepared, no problem – the recipe also works with fresh yeast. The following pre-dough replaces the sourdough: dissolve 10 g fresh yeast in 40 g lukewarm water and mix with 70 g flour. Then mix the dough for the pincinelle as described above. For the variant with fresh yeast, let the dough rise for 1 hour at room temperature. It should double in size. The pre-dough does not need time to rise.
... and also with surplus starter : mix 100 g of starter with 100 g of flour and 50 ml of water - 50% hydration. Allow to rise at normal room temperature for 3-4 hours, or until the dough has doubled.
Not too thick, not too thin.
For the perfect pincinelle, my mother always made two or three pairs of ‘samples’ before rolling the whole dough. One piece of pasta from each pair was cooked (the pasta also rises again), then the best result was chosen. And the uncooked version of it became the model for shaping the rest of the dough.
More than 4 portions?
The ratio of ingredients (2 parts flour, 1 part water, 1 part sourdough) remains the same, even if you want to increase the quantities to serve more guests.