Pici all’aglione

Heston Pici all'aglione

A new rising star in molecular gastronomy…? 

Pici all’aglione

Pici all'aglione

… well not exactly. It all started because the Rowes came across a pack of pici pasta and felt they must do it justice. Pici are a special type of pasta from the Italian region of Tuscany and are traditionally associated with a sauce made with ‘aglione’ (big garlic), a variety that grows in an area called Val di Chiana. The bulbs can be five times bigger, weighing up to 500g! The flavour is also different – not as pungent: it has been described as closer to leek than to mainstream garlic.

Which is when Fidget’s lightbulb went off! Unable to put his paws on the real aglione, he decided to replace it with a combination of standard garlic and… leek! The result was most impressive, so if you want to try and reproduce the experiment, here’s how:

Ingredients: 180g pici pasta, 3 garlic cloves, 1 medium leek, 350g fresh tomatoes, ½ fresh chilli finely chopped, 1 tsp white wine vinegar, olive oil.

Start by preparing the sauce: place the tomatoes in a bowl and cover with boiling water; leave for a minute or two until the skin starts breaking up. Drain the tomatoes, remove the skin, roughly chop them and discard the seeds and excess liquid. Finely grate the garlic and thinly chop the leek (white part only). Put some olive oil in a pan, add the garlic, chilli and leek and start frying gently. After a few minutes (the garlic should ‘melt’ not turn dark), add the chopped tomatoes and vinegar. Season, mix well and cook gently until the tomatoes soften nicely.

Meanwhile bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the pici to manufacturer’s instructions. Drain (reserving 1 or 2 ladles of the cooking water), toss into the sauce, add some of the cooking water to loosen the mix so that the sauce really coats the pasta well, and serve at once!

A simple dish, devised with a little ingenuity out of necessity. Well done, Fidget, we might even nominate you for a Nobel prize!