Homemade Gluten-Free Pici Pasta (Tuscan Spaghetti Noodles)

I learned the art of pici making in Tuscany from a woman who refused to give me the recipe - apparently, it's all about feel! The pictures in this post don’t do the entire process justice because I didn’t use a tripod to show both hands. Hopefully these very detailed instructions for how to make gluten-free pasta noodles will guide you. It may seem involved, but it's a really fun project that reminds me a lot of making play dough necklaces in arts and crafts. 

I used Cup4Cup flour and found that it gave the gluten-free strands some nice elasticity. When I was in Tuscany, we used the Schar brand and they broke a lot more easily. Try whatever gluten-free AP flour you have on hand, but if you find the dough is too delicate to roll, you may have to simply shape it into a tube with your hands, and not try to roll and stretch at the same time. 

Traditionally, pici is served with a meat ragu (the Tuscan version of a bolognese sauce), but I love it with just a simple marinara or pesto. Use whatever you prefer. For more best practices on cooking gluten-free pasta, click here

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 2 main course

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups AP gluten-free flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Sea salt
  • 2 cups Marinara sauce for serving
  • 2 tablespoons chopped basil or parsley for serving

Instructions

  1. Place the flour in a large mixing bowl and push up against the sides, creating a well in the center. Crack the eggs into the well, and beat with a fork, slowly incorporating more flour as you mix it together. Add the water, one tablespoon at a time, until the dough is moist and beginning to hold together. It should be the consistency of playdough, with just a few dry crumbs. I used about 1/3 cup total water.

  2. With clean hands, knead the dough in the bowl, pushing down and folding the patty back on itself until you have a ball that is more or less smooth in texture. Note: GF doughs will not become elastic in the same way as regular pasta dough. Do not expect to press the dough ball and have it bounce back.
  3. Place the dough ball on a clean work surface (preferably a large wooden cutting board with some texture, anchored to the counter with a damp paper towel). Cut the dough into 8 equal pieces. Return to the bowl and cover with a damp kitchen towel while you work through it.
  4. Take your first piece of dough and with damp hands, roll it into a thick cylinder (about 5-inches long). The process of rolling out your pici pasta from here requires some dexterity and feel—you’ll get better at it as you go! Hold the dough in your left hand, while using your right hand to roll the right most portion of the log into a thin strand. The thinner, the better. But ideally, you just want the final strand to be as consistent in size as possible so that it cooks evenly. As you roll with your right hand, putting adequate downward pressure on the dough, gently use your left hand to create some friction and elongate the log (the wooden board will help with this – a plastic board will be too slippery). Keep working your way through the dough to the left, draping the finished, thin part of the strand in coils to your right. The key here is not to double back on your work. Make sure the dough you’re working is as thin as possible before proceeding down the rest of the log. If a piece breaks, simply reattach the strand and roll the two together again. By the end, you want your finished strand to be able to circle your neck 5 times as a necklace. Place the coiled noodle on a sheet pan or floppy board and cover with a kitchen towel until you’re finished repeating the process with the remaining pieces of dough.

  5. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Once there are bubbles, add a tablespoon or so of salt (it should taste like a well seasoned broth!), and return to a rolling boil. Carefully add the pasta strands, and stir so that the strands separate. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the noodles are tender, about 4 to 6 minutes. (They should float throughout). Drain the pasta and toss immediately with your sauce. Enjoy right away with a garnish of basil or parsley!
If you make this, tag @phoebelapine and #feedmephoebe - I'd love to see it!