Strozzapreti pasta with ‘fake sauce’

Strozzapreti pasta with ‘fake sauce’

Strozz apreti al sugo finto

Emiko Davies; Lauren Bamford

Strozzapreti are an ancient, homemade pasta, closely related to Siena’s pici. It’s a simple, rustic preparation of water and flour, rolled out by hand and cut into thin noodles (no pasta machine necessary). They are then rolled quickly and lightly in your hands until they resemble long, twisted ropes (hence the pasta’s name, ‘priest stranglers’). The folds in the ‘ropes’ are great for holding pasta sauce and the thick, resilient pasta is well-matched to hearty sauces such as Sugo Maremmano – the word sugo is the more traditional word used to describe ‘ragu’ in Tuscany.

I like to pair this with sugo finto, an aptly named sauce that has no meat in it – hence the reference to ‘fake’. The sauce is born of cucina povera, when meat (especially beef ) was a rare and special ingredient, usually reserved for nobility. The idea is to make this vegetable ragu thick and chunky, so the usual battuto of vegetables are a little more abundant than in a regular tomato sauce, the pieces are a little chunkier, and the sauce is reduced to make it thicker.


Quantity Ingredient


Quantity Ingredient
250g semolina
250g plain flour
300ml water


Quantity Ingredient
600g ripe tomatoes
or 400g tinned peeled tomatoes
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 handful flat-leaf parsley, stalks separated from leaves, finely chopped
60ml dry white wine
1 handful basil leaves
1 handful grated parmesan or pecorino cheese, (optional)


  1. If using fresh tomatoes, score their bottoms with a cross using a sharp knife and blanch them in a pot of boiling water for 30 seconds or so. Remove and place them in a bowl of ice-cold water. Their skins can now be peeled easily. Chop into quarters, discard the seeds and then dice the rest of the tomatoes into 1 cm pieces. Set aside.
  2. Heat the olive oil gently in a large frying pan and add the finely chopped vegetables, along with the garlic and finely chopped parsley stalks. Season with a pinch of salt and let the vegetables slowly cook and soften, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes.
  3. When the onions are transparent and the carrots have softened, pour over the wine. Turn the heat up to medium and continue cooking for 3–5 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced significantly. Add the chopped tomatoes and 250–500 ml of water, or enough to cover the vegetables (the amount of water required will also depend on how juicy the tomatoes are). If using tinned tomatoes, pour in the lot ( juice and all), and break the tomatoes up with a spoon. Bring to a simmer over low–medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, for 30–40 minutes or until the sugo has become thick and rich. (If needed during cooking, you can top up with water.) Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed, then set aside. If you prefer a smoother sauce, you can pass this through a food mill. Otherwise, leave it chunky and thick.
  4. While the sauce is cooking, make the pasta by combining the flours and water until you have a smooth dough. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap or place in a bowl with a tea towel over the top. Allow it to rest for 30 minutes.
  5. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to a thickness of 2–3 mm and dust lightly with flour. Roll up the sheet of dough and cut into 1 cm thick strips. One by one, take a noodle between the palms of your hands and roll the noodle quickly and lightly, twisting them to create thick noodles.
  6. Put the pasta in a large pot of boiling, well-salted water. Cook until al dente, about 3–4 minutes (taste a noodle – it should be slightly resistant, even chewy, but not taste like flour). When cooked, drain the pasta, add to the sauce and toss together until well coated. Serve immediately, scattered with basil and, if desired, a handful of grated pecorino or parmesan cheese.


  • If we head from Maremma to the other side of Monte Amiata and into the province of Siena, where pici were born, there is another very good sauce that you could make by simply adding sausage meat. Use gluten-free, pure pork sausages. Peel the skin off and crumble the meat in with the soffritto of vegetables before adding the wine. It is known as sugo bugiardo, another aptly named ragu meaning ‘liar sauce’, because it is made with sausage rather than beef.


  • Both parts of the recipe can be made ahead of time. The dough can be kept in the fridge while resting, and you can keep it here for several hours, though it begins to turn dark the longer you keep it. The sauce can be made the day before, and it is even better when it’s had time to sit. If making it all at once, you can make the dough first and, while that is resting, start the sauce. Then, while the sauce is simmering, finish making the pasta.
Back to top
    No results found
    No more results
      No results found
      No more results
        No results found
        No more results
          No results found
          No more results
            No results found
            No more results
              No results found
              No more results
              Please start typing to begin your search
              We're sorry but we had trouble running your search. Please try again