Handrolled Pici with a Simple Tomato Sauce

a bowl of pici pasta in tomato sauce by Julia Ostro for Lunch Lady Magazine

Originally from Siena, pici pasta is a thick egg-free style of pasta that's perfect for beginners to attempt. It's similar to spaghetti but a little thicker and softer.

One of our faves, Julia Busuttil Nishimura, shared her recipe for the perfect handrolled pici pasta with a simple tomato sauce that kids will love, and love to make with you.


A photo of Julia Ostro with her child making pasta. She wears an orange dress and he has a blue tshirt and short black hair.

Handrolled Pici with a Simple Tomato Sauce

(serves 4–6)

For the pici pasta dough:

  • 400g / 14oz tipo 00 or plain flour
  • Sea salt
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • Semolina flour (semola rimacinata di grano duro), for dusting

For the simple tomato sauce:

  • 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 French shallots, finely chopped
  • Sea salt
  • 3 parsley stalks
  • 800g / 28oz canned whole peeled tomatoes
  • 200ml / 6.8 fl oz tomato passata
  • Grated parmesan, to serve

Photo of kids hands making homemade pasta on a wooden table

To make:

1.  To make the pici dough, tip the flour onto a clean work surface and mix with a large pinch of salt. Make a well in the centre, add the olive oil and slowly pour in the warm water. Use your hands to bring the flour into the water, mixing until you have a rough dough.
Knead for about 10 minutes, until smooth and very elastic. As the dough becomes smooth, it is important to clean down your work surface and hands, then continue to knead. Cover with an upturned bowl and set aside for an hour to rest.
2.  Meanwhile, make the sauce by warming the olive oil in a large pan over a low heat. Add the shallots and a good pinch of salt and cook for around 13–15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened.
Add the parsley stalks and allow to cook with the shallots for a minute or two. Increase the heat to high and pour in the canned tomatoes and passata and 400ml / 13.5 fl oz of water, breaking up the tomatoes with the back of a wooden spoon.
Bring the sauce to a boil then reduce the heat and allow the sauce to simmer gently for 45 minutes or until slightly thickened and rich. If the sauce seems too dry, add more water as it cooks. Season to taste.

3.  Roll out the dough to a disc around 1cm thick and drizzle with some olive oil to stop it from drying out. Cut the dough into 1cm strips and roll each strip into a thin rope around 5mm wide. Have a small bowl of water nearby if the dough begins to dry out and wet your fingertips to help keep the dough moist. Alternatively, just pinch off pieces of the dough and roll into the thin ropes.
Place the rolled pici on a clean tea towel dusted with semolina flour and continue with the remaining dough.

4.  Just before you cook the pici, have the sauce heating over a medium heat.

5.  Cook the pici in a large pot of salted boiling water until chewy but not chalky, around 3–4 minutes.
Drain the pici, reserving some of the cooking water.
Add the pici to the pan with the sauce and as much cooking water as needed to help coat the pasta. Simmer the pasta and sauce together for a minute or two until slightly thickened again, then serve with grated parmesan.

Two photos of a pici pasta in tomato sauce with grated parmesan cheese on top



Handrolled Pici with a Simple Tomato Sauce is originally from Lunch Lady Magazine Issue 26.

Recipe by Julia Busuttil Nishimura, photos by Annika Kafcaloudis.

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