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Pici Pasta in Smoky Squash Sauce

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Pici pasta takes comfort-carbs to the next level. Traditionally from Tuscany, it’s like a much thicker spaghetti with a much rougher, less uniform texture which means it’s curiously satisfying to slurp up an entire bowl. What’s more, pici has vegan origins as it’s made using just flour, water, salt and olive oil. This pasta works best with simple, smooth, glossy sauces which allow the moreish bite of the noodles to speak for themselves. We’ve paired it with a sweet, slightly smoky sauce made from butternut squash and cashew cream which is going to blow your mind.

  • Author: Night School Vegan
  • Yield: 4 Servings 1x

Ingredients

Scale

For the Roasted Squash Sauce

  • 50g raw unsalted cashews
  • 1 large butternut squash
  • 58 sage leaves
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • ¼ tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Pinch flaky sea salt
  • 50g vegan butter
  • 230 ml vegetable stock
  • pinch grated nutmeg
  • 1 ½ tsp ground black pepper

For the Pici Pasta

  • 400g Type ‘00’ flour (plus around 150g more for dusting)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1½ tsp fine sea salt

Instructions

To Roast the Squash

  1. Preheat the oven to 170c.
  2. Place the cashews in a cup and cover with boiling water. Cover and leave to soak for a minimum of 1 hour.
  3. Slice the butternut squash in half lengthways and place on a baking tray. Tear the sage leaves and sprinkle over the sliced squash. Without peeling, crush the cloves of garlic with the side of a knife. Sprinkle with a pinch of the paprika and reserve the rest. Drizzle with olive oil and a pinch of flaky sea salt. Place in the oven for a minimum of 40 minutes or until the squash is tender all over and feels soft when pricked with a fork. The roasting time will vary depending on the size of your squash.
  4. While the squash roasts, make the pasta.

To Make the Pasta

  1. In a medium bowl, mix together the pasta ingredients along with 200ml of water. Mix well with a spoon until the dough just about comes together then switch to using your hand. Once you have a good ball of dough, turn it out onto a clean surface.
  2. Knead the dough well for at least 10 minutes (set a timer!). After ten minutes of kneading the dough should have changed texture and should be very smooth and not sticky.
  3. Pat the dough into a rough oblong. Using a sharp knife, slice the rectangle of dough into strips. Ideally each strip should weigh between 20 and 24g but if you’d like to skip the weighing, just slice the rectangle into around 20 strips.
  4. Place the strips onto a plate and cover with a damp tea-towel. Place one strip of dough onto a clean, un-floured surface and use the flat of both palms to roll the strip against the table, moving your palms from the centre of the strip outwards as you roll. You should end up with a long, thick, shoelace of pasta, around the width of a chopstick.
  5. Pour the remaining 150g of flour into a bowl and drop the rolled pasta into the flour before placing on a floured baking tray and covering with a damp tea-towel. Repeat the process until all your pasta has been rolled out. Making sure all the pasta is covered, set it aside.

To Finish

  1. Once the squash is roasted and tender, remove it from the oven and allow it to cool for around 10 minutes. Once cool enough to handle, scrape out the inside of the squash and place it in the cup of a high speed blender. Also add the roasted sage leaves and squeeze out the soft, roasted garlic from their crispy outer layer and add to the blender too.
  2. Blend until very, very smooth. If you don’t trust your blender, be sure to pass the mixture through a sieve too – the mixture should be really smooth. Meanwhile, heat a wide saucepan over medium heat and add the vegan butter.
  3. Once the vegan butter is melted and bubbling, add the squash puree to the pan. Add the vegetable stock, remaining paprika, nutmeg and black pepper and mix to combine. Bring to a simmer then reduce the heat slightly and cook on low for around 10 minutes, stirring regularly until the mixture is reduced and thick.
  4. Drain the soaked cashews and add them to the cup of a high-speed blender along with 80ml of cold water. Blend until very smooth and then add to the reduced squash sauce.
  5. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to the boil and add a good few pinches of sea salt. Take a portion of pasta and boil for 5 minutes. Before removing the pasta from the water, take a ladle of the pasta water and add it to the squash sauce. The sauce should now look glossy and very smooth.
  6. Remove the pasta from the water using a pasta server (the thing that looks like an upturned claw) and add it to the sauce. Again, using the pasta server, remove the pasta from the sauce and plate up. Top with some shredded sage leaves and a little extra black pepper before serving.

Keywords: pici pasta, vegan pasta

Notes

Find the full detailed recipe with step-by-step and pictures for this pici and squash sauce below. It’s a good idea to have a read through if you’ve never made pasta before, but trust me, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how simple it is!

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