This is a soup that is best made with peas freshly shelled out of the pod accouncing the arrival of Spring in its full splendour. However, frozen peas will do for other times of the year when a hot soup makes for thrilling food news.
‘Quadrucci’ is Italian for ‘little squares’ and that’s because the pasta dough is cut into little squares. The ‘squares’ in question are made out of freshly made egg pasta (pasta all’uovo), i.e. not the ordinary dry pasta. (At a pinch, you can use dried egg pasta.) As a rule of thumb, you will need 50g of pasta per person. Making a little more, however, never hurts.
If you know how to make home-made pasta you can skip Section A and go straight to B.
A. MAKING THE PASTA DOUGH AND THE QUADRUCCI
I like to make it with freshly made pasta dough myself but you can buy it too. What you see below is 300g of sifted flour and 3 whole eggs.
It doesn’t take that long to make and can be quite a satisfying exercise when there is something worrying you at the back of your mind. Messing about with your hands gives you that ineffable feeling of doing something ‘purposeful’ and this distracts and relaxes the brain somewhat, i.e. reduces stress levels. You can also put the flour and eggs in a processor and mix it that way.
Use a fork at first to whisk the eggs together, and then gradually whisk in some flour too, a little at a time.
It will get to the point where most of the egg gets mixed wtih the flour and so you can start using your fingers instead of the fork.
Dust the surface you are using with pleeeenty of flour! The dough is very sticky at first. Then knead to your heart’s content!
The warmth emanating from your hands will work on the flour and break down the gluten and make it more ‘elastic’ and easy to roll out.
The pasta dough needs to be kneaded until it is fairly easy to ‘stretch’ and when you poke your finger in it … it will ‘rise’. Cover it with a clean tea-towel or clingfilm and leave it rest for half an hour before rolling it out.
When you have rolled out the pasta into as round a shape as you can manage, let it rest again for a few minutes. Then roll the pasta inwards, first at one end, then at the opposite of that end, until they meet in the middle. Then very gently turn that into one big roll. You now have one long roll which you have to cut it into strips. Once you have cut it into strips, cut the strips into squares! There’s pasta geometry for you ….!
On the left is pasta dough that is still in the clingfilm. On the tight are the cut up quadrucchi. In the middle is the rolled out pasta … notice that it’s quite thin.
Cutting the pasta ‘roll’ into strips …
Bundle the strips … and cut them into squares …
Scatter plenty of flour over the squares so that they don’t stick together. Set aside.
B. PREPARING THE SOUP
Chop some guanciale or pancetta … whichever you prefer or have to hand.
Roughly chop one large onion and sweat in a pan with plenty of olive oil (and I like to add a peppercorn). After a while add the chopped pancetta or guanciale and cook for about 3-4 minutes.
Grate some parmesan cheese (about 20g per person or more if you prefer). As you can see, there is an almost equal amount of quadrucci to peas in volume.
Add some hot water … cook for about ten minutes to make a stock/broth worthy of the quadrucci. Taste and add salt and pepper as desired.
Add the fresh pasta immediately after the frozen peas. Mix together and cook until the pasta is ready. About 3-4 minutes, depending on the pasta.
It looks very inviting already.
SERVING THE QUADRUCCI CON I PISELLI
Ladle the soup into the plate. I added some chopped parsley.
Sprinkle the grated parmesan like a coat of snow …