Shaping Strozzapreti

Shaping Strozzapreti
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strozzapreti and pesto
They hold their shape, and the pesto.

We couldn’t resist making fresh pasta to go along with the walnut pesto we’d just made, but we didn’t want to have flat pasta. Sure, it all tastes the same, but sometimes the shape can make a dish more visually pleasing. Plus, shaped pasta will hold the sauce, which is what we needed for tossing with pesto. Of course, we could always make orecchiette, but we thought we’d have a bit of fun making a new shape.

Strozzapreti is a simple pasta shape that you can make quickly and easily at home, with the added advantage of having one of the most intriguing names around: strozzapreti literally means “priest strangler,” or “priest choker.” We don’t know if that refers to a priest choking while eating this shape of pasta, or if it refers to something that priests wear around their necks that has a passing resemblance, or perhaps the name has a more sinister meaning. To us, it sounds like a good topic for dinner conversation, and, if anyone knows the true story, let us know, too.

Since this is really about shaping pasta, we’ll just refer you to our basic pasta dough, which is what we used (a single batch), assume you have it made and ready to roll, and start scratchin’ out shapes that seem slightly menacing, at least to priests.

Roll out dough. Divide the dough into four pieces, and, working with one at a time, roll out into a sheet about 4 inches by 16 inches and very thin (less than 1/16 of an inch).

cutting pasta
Cut the thin pasta sheets into strips about 3/4 inch wide and 4 inches long.

Cut strips. Cut the dough sheet cross-wise to make strips about 3/4 of an inch wide and 4 inches long.

A close-up of the pasta when rolled gives a good idea of the shape you’re making.

Roll. Pick up a strip, and, holding one end in your left hand, use your right hand to roll the pasta into a spiral. It should stay spiral-shaped when released, but, if it didn’t, roll it a bit tighter.

Sorry we couldn’t get a photo of us actually shaping the pasta. You need both hands to shape the pasta, leaving none for the camera.

Dry. Place the strozzapreti on a drying rack covered with a clean cloth and let dry for about an hour before cooking. And remember, fresh pasta will boil up in just a couple of minutes, so test it early and often.

That’s it. You might think that it would take a while to make all those strozzapreti, but, for one of us, working alone, it only took about 15 minutes to roll, cut, and shape them all. With practice, we think it’ll go faster next time. We thought that the strozzapreti would just unroll during cooking, but, as you can see in the picture at the top, they hold their shape.

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