Truffle & Wild Mushroom Pici
A typical pasta of Tuscany, pici are long, fat hand-rolled noodles, similar to a thick bucatini. They’re popular in areas like Siena and Montalcino, as well as in Toscana’s neighboring region, Umbria.
One of my favorite parts about pici is their non-uniform shape and how this imperfection creates varied textures with each bite. The thicker parts take longer to cook and therefore have a nice chew, while the thinner areas cook faster and are softer and more delicate.
Here we’ve paired the pici with a 100% plant-based wild mushroom sauce, enriched with a few drops of truffle oil, but you could serve them with a variety of sauces from a garlicky tomato to a hearty duck ragù.
Truffle & Wild Mushroom Pici
Prep time: 45 Minutes, plus resting
Cook time: 15 Minutes
For the pici:
2 cups (360 grams) semolina rimacinata flour, plus a little extra for dusting the finished pasta
1 cup (180 grams) lukewarm water
1½ teaspoons (10 grams) kosher salt
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus a few tablespoons extra set aside in a small bowl
For the mushroom sauce:
4 cups fresh wild mushrooms (cremini, porcini, chanterelle all work well), finely chopped
1 shallot, minced
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
½ cup dry white wine
⅔ cup vegetable stock
1 tablespoon truffle oil (you can use regular extra virgin olive oil instead)
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
Optional topping: fried breadcrumbs
To make the pici:
Whisk together flour and salt until well combined.
Dump flour onto a clean work surface.
Using your fingertips, make a well in the center. Pour in the water, a little bit at a time, carefully mixing it together with the flour as you do so.
Once the flour and water start to come together to form a mass, use your hands to knead the dough. If the dough feels dry, add a little bit more water. You can also use a spray bottle or dip your hands in water to add a little bit at a time. This also helps to more evenly distribute the water throughout the dough.
Knead the dough vigorously, for about 10 minutes, until a smooth, homogenous ball is formed. The dough should feel soft and supple, and not be too sticky.
Wrap in plastic wrap and let the dough rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. You can also store it in the fridge, covered, for up to 48 hours.
Once rested, unwrap the dough and roll it out into a rectangle or oval, about ⅛-inch thick. Cut the dough into strips, about ¼ inch wide and 6 inches long.
Set aside a few strips and cover any remaining dough in plastic wrap to keep it from drying out while you shape the pici.
Dip your fingertips in a little bit of olive oil and rub it around to coat the palm of your hand. This will help create traction when rolling out the pici.
Using the palms of your hands and the underside of your fingers, roll each strip out into a long, rope, a little thinner than a pencil. Gently press down and roll, carefully pulling your hands outwards as you roll to stretch each piece. Place the finished pici on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Leave space between each pici to keep them from sticking to one another. Continue in this way, until all of the dough has been used.
To make the mushroom sauce:
Heat a tablespoon of olive oil or truffle oil in a pan on medium-low heat. Add the finely minced shallots and garlic and gently cook, just until soft and fragrant about two minutes.
Add the chopped mushrooms and a pinch of salt. Cook until soft, stirring occasionally.
Turn the heat on medium-high and add the wine, letting it evaporate. Add the vegetable stock and cook on medium heat, until reduced by half. Keep on low heat.
To assemble the dish:
Bring a large pot of water to a gentle boil and generously add salt. Add the pici pasta and cook just until they’re almost done about 3 minutes. Directly transfer the pasta to the mushroom sauce using a slotted spoon. Add about ½ cup of the pasta water to the pasta and sauce.
Stir the pasta and sauce together, coating all the pici with the mushroom sauce. Cook on low heat, stirring constantly, for about a minute or until the pasta is al dente and well coated.
Serve warm with a sprinkling of fresh parsley on top. Optional: sprinkle with fried breadcrumbs or parmesan cheese.