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Pici Pasta with Potatoes and Beans

Pici pasta with potatoes and beans is a recipe from the new cookbook Pasta et Al. The dish calls for a fresh, thick-rolled pasta in a Tuscan preparation.

Pici pasta with potatoes and beans

Pici pasta with potato and beans. Photo: Alec Morris

This pici pasta with potatoes and beans recipe comes from the new cookbook Pasta et Al, by Australian author Alec Morris and taking its name from the blog he runs with his two sons, Aldo and Elio. You'll need to buy the book to gain access to his preferred dough for this recipe, which is used for thick, hand-rolled pasta known as pici, a Tuscan preparation. Or you can substitute store-bought pici or other thick, long pasta from your local Italian market or available online. [Note: Appetito may earn commissions from products featured in links to this story.]

This is one of Nonna’s classics, a comforting and simplistically delicious dish known as pasta vaianera, from the old Calabrese word for ‘green beans’. The smell and taste of these humble ingredients together is one that takes me straight back to Nonna’s little linoleum kitchen.

As with so many classics, it’s one that can be thrown together in a hurry and cooked with little fuss. If we ever unexpectedly found ourselves at Nonna’s around mealtime, she’d say ‘non ci’mporta, ci arranciamu’, ‘it’s no problem, we’ll manage’, and then produce a dish just like this. Often with fresh ingredients from her garden, sometimes sausage dried in the garage or fresh from a jar of lard, and various preserved bits and pieces made from seconds that her regular visitors would drop off or trade.

It was just how they did things: that whole generation that transplanted into their little pockets of Australia a selfsustainability originally born of necessity. But when I really think back, I do remember the sly smile of pride that Nonna would allow herself as we gawked at her huge basil leaves, bigger and greener than anyone else’s, or pulled together a last-minute meal seemingly out of thin air. And of course. There are few things as satisfying as a simple meal made honestly, with ingredients you’ve grown, shared with people you love.

Pici with Potatoes and Beans

Pici with Potatoes and Beans

Recipe by Alec Morris
0.0 from 0 votes
Servings

4

servings
Prep time

20

minutes
Cooking time

10

minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 1 × quantity pasta dough or 1 lb. dry pasta

  • 2 2 –3 garlic cloves, chopped

  • 3 3 ½ fl oz /100 ml extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 lb 1 5 oz /600g roma (plum) tomatoes, chopped

  • 1 lb 1 5 oz /600 g potatoes, cut into quarters or eighths

  • 10 1/2 oz 10 1/2 /300g green beans, trimmed

  • 10 1/2 oz 10 1/2 /300 g zucchini (courgette), chopped into thick batons

  • 1 small 1 handful of basil leaves

  • salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Directions

  • Prepare the pici using pasta dough and roll relatively thinly, about ¹/8 in or 3 mm (or use dry pasta and follow directions on box).
  • Gently sauté the garlic in the olive oil in a saucepan for 5–10 minutes over a low heat until soft but not browning; stir consistently. Add the tomatoes and raise the heat to medium.
  • Stir in the potatoes, beans, zucchini, and basil with 7 fl oz or 200 ml water. Cover and cook for around 45 minutes until the potato has softened slightly and the sauce has thickened. Leave uncovered on the heat for a few minutes if the sauce is too runny. Season to taste.
  • Boil the pici in a large pot of salted water until cooked, around 4–6 minutes. They should be firm to the bite, but with no raw white dough visible in the middle. Note that thicker pici can take significantly longer to cook. Drain, retaining a little pasta water.
  • Toss the cooked pasta directly into the sauce and stir, adding a little pasta water if required.

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Excerpted with permission from Pasta et Al by Alec Morris published by Hardie Grant Publishing, September 2023, RRP $35.00 Hardcover.

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