I was surprised when doing research on the traditional food of Umbria at just how difficult a time I had in finding obvious and unarguable traditional recipes. Located in the center of Italy to the east of Tuscany, north of Rome, and west of Le Marche, I thought that it would be easy to find all kinds of recipes. Sadly though, it is as if Umbria trails in the shadows of its more well known neighboring regions rather than living off of their coattails. However, this is not to say that Umbria doesn't have some delicious culinary traditions of their own; they simple seem to be a more well-kept secret than those of the surrounding areas.
I did find a great deal of information of typical ingredients for Umbrian dishes, even if recipes themselves were scarce. One ingredient that came up over and over again was lentils, particularly in soups. However, since I made soup several times in the last few weeks, I chose to make umbricelli, a traditional pasta for the first coarse from Umbria. (Don't worry, the antipasto will be coming tomorrow. I didn't have the ingredients on hand last night, and was too wrapped up in 90210 to go to the store and get them.)
This pasta is made of simple flour and water, and is very simple to make. However, it is difficult to roll out without a pasta machine. As you can see in my pictures, mine is a little too thick. However, with some patience (maybe that's where I got off track) and some muscles, it can be done by hand. Don't be confused by the name. There is a small, twisted pasta that can be found which is also called umbricelli. The umbricelli that I made however, is more like something in between spaghetti and fettucini.
You can serve this pasta with any sauce that you like, but it would typically be served with a simple tomato sauce, which is the route I went.
-Adapted from Italian Food Forever-
3 cups all-purpose flour (you can also use semolina or a combination of the two depending on how you like the texture of your pasta)
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup room temperature water
- In a bowl, combine the flour and salt. Forming a well in the middle, pour in the water. Use a fork to combine the ingredients until a dough is formed.
- Form the dough into a ball and knead on a lightly floured surface for 4-5 minutes.
- Roll out into a rectangle as thin as you can. Cut the dough into strips about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick. One way to do this is to roll the dough up like a jelly roll and cut it into 1/8 to 1/4 slices this way and then unroll the strands. However, unless you have a very sharp knife, this may mush the dough together rather than give you clean strands.
- Toss the pasta with flour.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil. Salt the water. Put the pasta in the pot in batches so that you don't overfill the pot. Cook for 2-3 minutes and then drain. Be sure to keep an eye on the pasta! Fresh pasta cooks much quicker than dried pasta.
- Toss with a simple tomato sauce and serve hot.
Ryan's rating of Umbricelli - 4.