Pienza is a lovely small town in Tuscany, in the province of Siena, between Montalcino and Montepulciano. We went there Easter last year, and came back laden with pecorino cheeses, biscuits, red wine, vague plans to move to Tuscany and grow sunflowers, and yes – some pici al tartufo.
Pici is a local pasta, like a thick spaghetti, originating near Montalcino. (You might see a very similar pasta in Umbria called stringozzi.) It’s quite fun to make, just flour and water and you roll it out by hand. This is shop-bought pici with tartufo, truffles. I’d been saving it for a Pienza reunion dinner, but not everyone is wild about truffles, so the pasta languished, semi-forgotten at the back of the pasta shelf. Until now! It should really be served with porcini mushrooms, but we made do with plain supermarket mushrooms and it was just delicious, with the truffle smell wafting through the kitchen.
Pici al tartufo from Pienza, con funghi (for two)
Four skeins of pici al tartufo (you may need to go to Pienza to buy some pici, which may take some advance planning but is an excellent idea)
A small knob of butter
350 g mushrooms, sliced
A few stalks of parsley, chopped
Pinch of salt
First step: boil water for the pasta, so you can get the pasta started. These pici needed 22 minutes (add them to water once it is properly boiling). Sauté mushrooms in a separate pan in a little butter (just a little), until they are soft and golden, and add half the parsley. Also a pinch of salt.
Enjoy, and plan your trip to Pienza. Just LOOK at those shelves of jams and cheeses! Pecorino in wine leaves, in ashes, in hay, with peppercorns……. Mmmmmmmm.
PS if you cannot get yourself to Pienza, here is a great article on how to make pici, on Food52 last week by the amazing Emiko Davies: Pici con le Briciole (Pici with Breadcrumbs). Doesn’t that look wonderful?