There's a reason I asked Siri to call me "Noodles" (and it was only partly because I was jealous of one of James Urbaniak's many covetable nicknames for Julie Klausner in Difficult People). See, there are many benefits to being an established noodlephiliac.
To wit, people will:
- Post highly informative news items on your Facebook wall (thanks, Brian)
- Accept the fact that you're probably going to buy pretty dumb phone cases from time to time
- Correctly assume the origin of your 34-year-old baby fat
- Expect that you're going to use this as a profile picture every now and then:
But the greatest benefit of all: Once in a while you have a kind and generous friend who decides to spend the fall in Siena, Italy; and if you're very, very good, he'll bring you noodles.
Kevin brought me pici.
Please take a moment to appreciate the beauty of Kevin. The intensity in his eyes, the stylish and attentive touches in his attire, the impeccable grooming. Kevin is scary-smart, like TOO smart, and he'll sing any One Direction song your heart desires at a moment's notice, in key and everything. Also, lest we forget, he brought me noodles.
Now let's appreciate said pici (pronounced "peachy" - and they are).
Would you look at that dude? This guy, with one downward cast of his face, has accomplished everything American-dream style political advertising has ever tried to make me feel. This man knows every secret held within a perfect grain of wheat and lets soil slip through his fingers like poetry. BEQUEATH UPON ME YOUR WISDOM, GOOD SIR. Earth, here's the salt of you, out standing in a field in Italy. And, boy, is this pasta outstanding in its field!
I'm having trouble finding words that adequately get across the delight to be discovered in this new-to-me expression of pasta. Think "roided up spaghetti." It's maybe 3/8" in diameter, solid and chewy, but somehow delicate in its simplicity. I wanted to honor this high quality ingredient by making this soup all about these gorgeously slurpable noodles, and I'm not sure I could have been any happier with how this turned out.
I went full-on "Scarborough Fair" with this broth, and can officially declare it to be my favorite song-based recipe on record (she says, having never eaten a Big Mac). Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme aren't just lyrical magic - they're some kind of flavor alchemy as well, propping each other up to equal more than just the sum of their parts.
[Side note: can you even get over how hip and cool I sound with these avant-garde music references?] [Double side note: I added some dill too, so let's replace "and" in the lyrics with "dill", have, I don't know, Wiz Khalifa cover it?, and we'll really have a hit single on our hands.] [Triple side note: excuse those highly questionable commas; I don't feel like properly punctuating right now.:;,"!]
The parm rinds in the broth don't hurt either. They add body, funk and nuttiness, making the broth significantly more substantial when it hits your tongue. I will admit that that last sentence is one of my less appetizing descriptions, but it's accurate.
As stated above, the pici really was the star here - the show-stealing Emma Stone to the perfectly attractive and accomplished Ryan Gosling, if you will (Whoa, when did this blog get so controversial?!?). A few more additions do really help the broth keep keep pace, though: a split jalapeño and some red pepper flakes for some heat and a whole messa garlic. Finish this off with minced parsley, a spritz of lemon juice and a flurry of Pecorino Romano, and you've got me dancing in the stars, too.
|Except about soup.|
In fact, my mouth may have met its perfect mate. BRB moving to Italy. I'll leave my all-time fave Sophia Loren pic here to distract you while I elope with the rest of this pici.
Pici in Garlic Herb Broth
Makes 2 servings
1 leek, white and light green parts only, sliced about 1/2" thick
6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
2 stalks celery, sliced about 1/2" thick
1 carrot, peeled and sliced about 1/2" thick
1 jalapeño, split
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
A few sprigs each parsley, sage, rosemary, dill, thyme
A few pieces of Parmigiano Reggiano rind
3 nests of pici or preferred long noodle
To serve: lemon juice, chopped parsley, grated pecorino Romano
Place all broth ingredients in a soup pot with 4 cups of water and, to start, a good teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer - let it go about 25 or 30 minutes. Taste for seasoning, then strain broth and return to pot, discarding vegetables and aromatics.
Bring broth back to a boil and drop in the pici. These take a good while to cook, so you'll probably need another 25 minutes or so, but do check package instructions (if you can read them), taste and don't cook them past al dente - they're too precious for that.
To serve, add a small squeeze of lemon (you don't want it to get too bitter - just bring up the acid) plus as much parsley and pecorino as your lil heart desires. Slurp loudly.