The recipe to make homemade Pici all’ Aglione

Pici all’aglione is a traditional peasant dish, originally from the Val di Chiana, which combines two great elements of Tuscan cuisine.
It’s an iconic first course of Tuscan cuisine, known for their simplicity and their strong flavour.

Pici are a type of pasta typical of central Italy, they are a sort of spaghetti, thicker and rustic, which are prepared by hand with flour and water.
Their name derives from the term “impiciare”, the gesture necessary to make them which consists of working the dough until obtaining a particularly long spaghetti.

The garlic sauce is the heart of this dish and is prepared with plenty of garlic, extra virgin olive oil, tomato and a touch of chili.
Aglione, the Tuscan garlic, is a particular type of garlic, characterized by a much sweeter, more delicate and less invasive flavor than classic garlic, which is why this garlic must be squeezed or finely chopped to savor its aroma.

What is aglione (Tuscan garlic)?

Aglione is the variety of garlic typical of Val di Chiana, a territory in the south of Tuscany. It differs from common garlic due to its large size (it’s kind of a large garlic), which can weigh up to 800 g, and its much more delicate flavour, which has even led it to be defined as “kissproof garlic“.

What does aglione taste like?
The flavor of Aglione is sweeter and much less invasive than that of garlic and for this reason it is called “the garlic of the kiss”. Furthermore, garlic is much more digestible and rich in phenols and other precious nutritional substances which make it an excellent ally for our health.
Let’s see together how to prepare a perfect typical Tuscan dish!

Preparation of Pici all’aglione

Ingredients for Pici

  • 400 g 00 flour
  • 200 ml warm water
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
  • Semola Rimacinata or Rice Flour to dust

For the seasoning

  • 100g Aglione
  • 50 ml of extra virgin olive oil
  • 750 g tomato puree or peeled tomatoes
  • 80 ml White wine or 1 tablespoon of wine vinegar
  • 1 chilli pepper
  • salt to taste

To make handmade pici, put the flour in a large bowl and add the warm water, salt and oil.
Work the ingredients into the bowl until most of them are combined together.
Once the mixture has reached a good texture, transfer it to a lightly floured pastry board and continue to knead until you obtain a smooth and homogeneous mixture.
For this amount 5 minutes of kneading should be fine, bigger dough can take more work.
In case the dough is sticky and wet, dust little by little more 00 flour.
When ready let the dough rest for half an hour under an overturned bowl or covered with a lightly damp cloth.

Once the rest time has passed, you can form your pici in two ways:

● If you have the right tool (called a mattarello per pici – “pici rolling pin”), simply roll out the dough on a floured pastry board with a classic rolling pin, until it reaches a thickness of about 2 mm, pass the pici tool over it, pressing firmly on the dough, separate the resulting strips from each other and work them one by one, rolling them with your hands to form loaves of uniform thickness.

● If you don’t have a “pici rolling pin” at your disposal, you can roll out the dough and cut it with a knife, trying to obtain strips with the most uniform thickness possible and then slide them one by one onto the pastry board to give shape to the pici.

Alternatively you can take small pieces of dough and roll them on the pastry board to form long irregular cylinders, moving with your fingers from the center outwards, so as to thin until they are a few mm thick.

It’s important to don’t usa flour on the surface where you are making Pici, can make difficult to roll them under your fingers.
Once Pici are ready, dust with generous Semola Rimacinata or rice Flour: they won’t stick to each other.

How to prepare the Aglione sauce

Peel the garlic cloves, put them in the cutter together with 2 tablespoons of oil and blend until you obtain a creamy texture.
Transfer the “cream” obtained into a pan with 3-4 tablespoons of EVO oil and heat it over a low heat for 10 minutes. Better to let the garlic slowly take some golden/yellow shades and don’t get it too brown cause it will get a bit bitter.
Alternatively you can crush the garlic with a garlic press or slice the cloves thinly and let them melt while cooking.
If you want to give it a spicy touch, add the chili pepper now and let it heat for a couple of minutes with the garlic. In case you really enjoy hot dishes, add even more chili pepper.
Then add the white wine (or a spoonful of wine vinegar), let the alcohol evaporate and add the tomato (you can choose between puree, peeled or both).

Give it a stir and let it cook over a low heat until the sauce has reached a thick texture.
Season with salt, turn off the heat and keep on the side.
Bring a pot with plenty of salted water to the boil and add the pici in it.
Cook Pici for about 4-5 minutes, then drain them and transfer them to the pan with the garlic sauce. Remember to always finish the cooking of your pasta with the sauce to reach the best result.
Cook pasta with Aglione sauce for a few minutes adding pasta water in case that everything gets a bit dry.

When pici are perfectly cooked and the sauce have a nice creamy texture, turn off the heat. In case you like it you can add a bit of Parmigiano Reggiano and basil for the “mantecatura”.
And serve your Pici all’Aglione into a nice nest of love.


What to pair with pici all’aglione?

In Siena the pici all’aglione from Valdichiana are a true devotion, but you can also try them seasoned with bread crumbs fried in good local oil or with a grating of local pecorino and a generous handful of black pepper.

How can I use aglione?

Aglione is also excellent for flavoring the oil in the classic bruschetta, and the part of the flower stems is also used: cut, cooked in water, vinegar and salt and then put in oil, delicious
to add to omelets or as a condiment for pasta.
Of course Aglione can be used in any recipe as a substitute for “regular garlic”.