We’re always looking for pasta shapes that we can make by hand. It seems odd, doesn’t it? We have a pasta machine that rolls and cuts nearly perfect fettuccine, making a better-looking product than we could ever make by hand. Yet, we still persist in making some shapes by hand, or at least partly by hand, generally rolling out pasta sheets, then cutting and shaping them manually.
Now, these are two shapes that can be made pretty much completely by hand. Lorighittas are shaped somewhat like a twisted ring; it’s a traditional shape in Sardinia. Named for the iron rings affixed to walls to tether horses, this shape seems to be exclusively hand-shaped. Until we saw it in a pasta book (we don’t know which one, sorry), we’ve had never even heard of lorighittas. But, thanks to this page we now know a bit more about the origin and meaning of lorighittas.
Annelli (meaning ring), on the other hand, are simply those neat little ‘O’s you eat with a spoon. Only these will be better, of course.
If pressed, we’d say there are two reasons, or perhaps three reasons, we still try to make some pasta shapes completely by hand. First, it’s fun. There’s always a sense of accomplishment when you can make something new and different. And, with the thousands of pasta shapes out there, you can easily find a shape that’s new to you. Second, it gives us a real, tactile connection with our food. By getting your hands in there and making food “the old-fashioned way,” you gain appreciation for your food and the effort required to make those meals from scratch. Third, we like to make sure people won’t have an excuse when they say “it’s too much trouble” to make something from scratch. After all, we’ve done it; we’ve made pasta from scratch, shaped it by hand, cooked it ourselves, and it wasn’t all that difficult. So, if you’re one of those people who doesn’t think it’s too much trouble, at least occasionally, to make pasta from scratch, let’s make pasta!
We won’t show how to make the pasta dough in this post, but we can assure you that it’s so easy that we make it about once a week. Just look at our Basic Pasta Dough recipe, which is what we made, and let it rest before shaping.
The first couple of steps are the same for both lorighittas and annelli — making a thin pasta rope — so we’ll show that, then show how to finish each shape.
Roll dough. Cut off a small piece of your dough and roll it flat using a rolling pine, wine bottle, broomstick, or other cylindrical device. It doesn’t really matter how thick, but something like 1/16th of an inch should be fine.
Cut strips. Use a bench knife and cut the sheet of pasta into narrow strips. Again, the exact width won’t matter much, but we tried to keep them narrower than 1/4 inch.
Roll into a rope. Pick up a strip and roll and twist it between your fingers and thumb to form a rope. You could also roll and shape the pasta across the counter, the same way you made clay snakes as a child. Whichever works for you is fine. Here in Arizona, our pasta dries out quickly, and it’s easier to roll between finger and thumb, so that’s our preferred method.
Shape lorighittas. Take the rope of pasta and loop it twice around three fingers. Pinch off the excess and press the ends together. You now have a double loop of pasta. Pull it off your fingers, and hold the double loop between your fingers and thumb of your left hand. With your right hand, twist the two loops together. That’s it. Now set it on a clean towel to dry and make another.
Shape annelli. Annelli are much easier to shape. Simply loop a piece of pasta around the tip of a finger, pinch off the excess, and pinch the two ends together. Roll it off your finger and you’re done.
For cooking pasta, just remember that the amount of time needed to boil the pasta will vary depending on how thick the pasta is and how long it dried before boiling. If it’s thin and fresh, it might be as little as a minute, but, for thicker and very dry pasta, it might be 10 minutes. The key is to test often by tasting a piece
We made both shapes, and tended to make more of the annelli, just because it was faster and our pasta dough would dry out as we worked it, making it hard to shape the lorighettas. Also, we always seemed to have a small piece of rope left over whenever we made one of the lorighettas, and it was easier to form a quick ring, rather than putting that piece back for re-rolling.