Sagne Pasta in Tomato Sauce from Chieti
This recipe for pasta in tomato sauce is a typical representative of the ’cucina povera’ in central Italy. The ingredients cost next to nothing, yet there’s a rich taste in the sun ripened tomatoes.
The word ‘Sagne’ is used in the mountainous parts of Abruzzo, Molise and Lazio to describe a particular type of pasta, that is mostly cut in rough squares or rhombus shapes, a bit like the ‘maltagliati’ pasta shapes favoured further north. Sagne pasta is made with grano duro, which is the hard durum wheat mixed with water and nothing else. In this part of world, pasta with eggs used to be Sunday food.
The other ingredients are just as austere. There are tomatoes, garlic, red bell pepper and leaves from the pepper plant instead of the extravagant peppercorns. Things you can grow in a window sill, and yet this pasta in tomato sauce is enough to make anyone feel happy and contended.
For the Sagne pasta
300 g durum flour
For the sauce
1 kg sun ripened tomatoes
1 red bell pepper
3 cloves of garlic
1 peperoncino hot chili pepper
Basil leaves, pepper plant leaves, olive oil, salt, pepper and water.
Make a mountain of durum wheat.
Pour a little water in the middle and start mixing the water the flour.
Use a fork to begin with and gradually add more water, until you have a soft and firm pasta dough.
Knead the dough through with the heel of your hand or run it through a pasta machine at the widest setting 10 times.
Cover the pasta in cling film and leave it to rest in the fridge for half an hour.
Meanwhile prepare the sauce
Heat up olive oil in a saucepan and fry the peeled cloves of garlic along with pieces of bell pepper. Take care not to burn the garlic.
Wash and cut the tomatoes in halves before adding them to the saucepan.
Let the sauce simmer for 30 minutes, then remove the garlic cloves.
Stir the sauce with crushed pepperoncino, pepper leaves (or pepper corns) and salt to taste.
Roll the pasta through all the settings of the pasta machine starting with the widest and ending with number 5.You can also roll the pasta by hand if you prefer.
Cut the pasta into rough diamond shapes, and boil it in plenty of water and a little oil for about 3 minutes until the Sagne is tender, but still has bite.
Drain and cover the sagne pasta in tomato sauce, and you have a traditional meal from Chieti in Abruzzo.
Sagne pasta in tomato sauce is mostly served with grated pecorino and fresh basil leaves. It is often served as a primo piatto before a meat dish of chicken, goose, rabbit or ‘cif e ciaf’ pork.