Whenever I teach cooking classes on homemade pasta (and for those of you in the New York area, please contact me if you’d like to book a class, demo or private event – I’d love to cook with or for you!), I make sure to stress the importance of saving the leftover scraps of dough from the perfect tagliatelle ribbons and ravioli pillows. These random bits may very well be my favorite “cut” of fresh pasta.
Known as “maltagliati” (meaning, “badly cut”) in Emilia-Romagna, in my part of Abruzzo, they’re called “plangozze” or “sagne” and are typically dressed with either a meaty sugo or floating in a soup with beans or chick peas. This practice was born out of the need for resourcefulness – the instinct of Abruzzese peasants to waste not even a single scrap of precious dough. However, when I was a little girl, I usually chose to forgo my grandmother’s sublime ravioli in favor of these floppy squares of pasta (and now my youngest son does the same).
If you forage through my freezer, you’ll find numerous ziplock bags containing random scraps of pasta of different textures, sizes and flours. I often add a handful to soups, particularly bean soups, and it imparts a hearty and rustic yet somehow luxurious quality – a little something special in a simple weeknight dinner.
Sagne e Ceci
Recipe by Majella Home Cooking ©
For the soup:
- 1 lb dried chick peas, pre-cooked
- 2 tablespoons of good-quality extra virgin olive oil plus more for drizzling
- 3 oz. of prosciutto, chopped
- 2 large shallots, chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 2 celery ribs, chopped
- 1 tablespoon rosemary, minced
- 8 cups chicken stock
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- A handful of sagne – fresh pasta scraps (recipe below)
To a heavy-bottomed pot, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the prosciutto, shallot, garlic, celery, a pinch of salt and several grindings of black pepper, and sauté, stirring frequently until the vegetables are golden and have softened, about 8 minutes. Add the rosemary and chicken stock, raise the heat and bring to a boil. Add an additional teaspoon of salt and the chick peas and simmer together over low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the pasta and cook for one minute and turn off the heat (the pasta will keep cooking for a while after and you don’t want it to get mushy). Season to taste and serve with grated cheese.
For the “sagne” (pasta scraps or squares):
- 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup semolina (durum wheat) flour
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
For the pasta, in a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flours to evenly distribute. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and olive oil. Make a well in the center of the bowl of mixed flours and pour the egg mixture into the well. Mix with a fork until all the flour is moistened and starts to clump together.
Lightly flour your hands, then gather the clumps and begin kneading right in the bowl, folding the mass over repeatedly until you’ve formed a cohesive lump of dough. Turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface and continue kneading for 5 minutes or so, until the dough is smooth on the outside, contains no lumps and feels elastic. (If dough seems too sticky or too hard after it has been kneaded for a minute or two, adjust the consistency with very small amounts of all-purpose flour or water.) Flatten the dough into a disk, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and let it rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Cut the dough into four equal pieces. Work with one piece and keep the others covered. Lightly flour the work surface and your rolling pin. Press the first piece of dough flat, then dimple it with your fingertips. Begin rolling it into a rectangle, about twice as long as it is wide. Working from the center of the dough, roll up and down and left and right. Flip the dough over occasionally and dust it with flour and occasionally turn the dough 90 degrees. When the dough gets thin and floppy (although not so thin that you can see your fingertips through it – this is a thicker pasta than tagliatelle), with a sharp knife or pastry wheel, cut the rectangle into 2-inch-wide strips and then cut the strips into squares. Allow the pasta squares to dry on baking sheets lined with non-terry kitchen towels dusted with semolina flour.
If you aren’t using the pasta immediately, place the baking sheets directly in your freezer. Once the pasta is frozen, transfer to ziplock bags and freeze for up to three months.