Garganelli are hardly well known outside Italy, but they deserve to be! This ridged, tubular pasta is likely the ancestor of penne, made by winding 1 and 1/2 inch squares of fresh pasta around a small wooden dowel onto a ridged board. Garganelli are typical of Romagna, in northern Italy, and the dough is often made with egg, soft wheat (as opposed to semolina or durum wheat) flour, a hint of nutmeg, and grated Parmigiano; some cooks even color and flavor their garganelli with spinach puree. The most common way to sauce garganelli is a beef and pork ragu, a slow-simmered sausage sauce, or a simple sauce of Prosciutto, peas, and cream. I love garganelli with any chunky, meaty sauce, or even with a hearty vegetable sauce featuring seasonal vegetables.
Garganelli derive their name to the dialect word garganel (the oesophagus of chicken, which they are said to resemble in shape). In the small town of Codrignano, there is a yearly Sagra del Garganello (Feast of Garganelli) in early September, a way for local cooks to celebrate their most emblematic pasta.
If you would like to try making garganelli at home, it really isn’t that difficult, and all you need is patience, a pencil, and a fine- tooth comb. For better results, though, I suggest you buy a garganelli board from www.fantes.com to make this pasta, as it is much easier to get pronounced lines and a consistent shape with a proper garganelli board. You can make the garganelli up to a day ahead and refrigerate them, or you can freeze them if you wish; if frozen, do not defrost before dropping into boiling water.
Makes 1 pound
- 2 and ¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus extra
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 3 large eggs
Make the garganelli: Mix the flour, salt, nutmeg, and Parmigiano on a counter. Make a well in the center and add the eggs; work the flour mixture into the eggs, adding a touch of water if it is too dry or a touch of flour if it is too moist. Knead for 8 minutes, or until perfectly smooth. Wrap in plastic; let rest 30 minutes.
Cut the dough into 4 pieces. Wrap 3 pieces in plastic and roll one piece out onto a floured counter into a 1/12”-thick sheet (or use a pasta machine to do this). Cut the sheet into 1 and 1/2” squares. Place one square on a garganelli board, arranged like a diamond rather than a square, near the top of the board. Place the small wooden dowel perpendicular to the garganelli board near the top of the pasta diamond. Using your index, lift the top edge of the pasta diamond down over the wooden dowel, and then roll the wooden dowel along the board to seal the pasta around the dowel. Do not apply too much pressure or the pasta will not release from the dowel.
Gently push the pasta off the dowel. Repeat with the remaining dough. Spread the garganelli out on a floured baking sheet and cover with a towel until needed. The garganelli can be shaped up to 1 day ahead and refrigerated, but they will dry out and lose their silky texture. The ragù can be made up to 2 days ahead and reheated as you boil the garganelli.
See our recipe for Red Wine and Two-Meat Ragu, which pairs beautifully with handmade garganelli.