La Nonna di Giulia makes “Sagne” pasta from Salento

Nonna Di giulia pasta 2

Nonna di Giulia is a very organized,  structured cook. Before embarking on any endeavour all ingredients are neatly laid out in readiness of the task at hand. I am under no illusion that many of you, if anyone reading this post will run off to the kitchen to make their own pasta after seeing the photos. Indeed, I would hasten to discourage you from trying, unless you can get your hands on the proper flours. Without the right ingredients, all effort is for nought, at least that has been my experience. In the past I tried making pasta using regular white flour, the 00 kind wasn’t available back then, eggs and water, I huffed and I puffed and I rolled out using the pasta maker that I have since banished to the basement, where it leads a lonely existence,  next to the Idli steamer, I brought back from India, and the ravioli press which I bought when I was planning to recreate some delicious pumpkin ravioli (made with amaretti and served with a delicious pistachio creme sauce, or was it walnut sauce, hm, either way it was amazing, that I had eons ago in Maryland back when government employees had to be in in the mornings in case you were wondering). But once again I digress as my thoughts chase after snippets of food memories like a greyhound hunting a hare, and so back to Nonna di Giulia and pasta made in Apulia.

On a very large marble table, that has been in your family for almost a century, and on which more than one generation of women has made pasta, and is ideally set outside in your garden under an azure sky and jasmine flowers set out your ingredients.

Semolina flour – ground very, very fine, but still with grittiness to it that you won’t find in white flour. Also have some 00 flour at hand. Make a big heap of semolina flour on your workspace and add in some 00 flour. The ratio is 5 parts semolina flour to 1 part 00 flour. Add in some water, ideally filtered, so that it isn’t hard. Then you knead and you knead until you have made a wonderful smooth dough, add water as you go if needed, but be circumspect, takes a while to incorporate the water, don’t be too generous.

Nonna di Giulia makes Pasta 1

Pasta 4

Pasta 10Then  take a piece of dough and start rolling it into a disc, the kind of task that anyone who does meditation will relish. You roll and you roll and you sprinkle with semolina flour to keep your rolling pin rolling,  the surface of the dough will be slightly gritty like ultra-fine sandpaper (if the sand were irregularly spaced).

Pasta 5Pasta 7You proceed this way making more and more discs, it takes longer than you might imagine, the discs should be no thicker than 2-3mm.

Rolling out pasta Pasta 6When you are satisfied with your discs cut them into strips either by hand:


pasta 9Or if you want to have nice straight strips you can use a “mattarello per tagliare” – which sounds like matador, but is unrelated I would think :). So the mattarello (rolling pin) for tagliare (for cutting) helps you make straight strips, you then need to cut the strips into separate pieces using a knife. Pasta 11 Pasta 12You then take each piece into your hands hand and roll it – in order to do this you need to pinch one end and then roll from that end forwards. See below. This looks easy, but trust me it isn’t:

Rolling pasta

Pasta rolling in shape

And then you bring the ends to together and lay them on paper plates where you let them dry for 1 hour max. 2 hours, not more, or they will dry out. You can then pop by and watch them drying and looking forward to eating them. Then you cook them as you would any other pasta. You then serve the pasta with a tomato sauce that you made with 2 kgs fresh tomatoes at 5am when you got up!

  Pasta final 14


10 thoughts on “La Nonna di Giulia makes “Sagne” pasta from Salento

  1. Oy, I’m tired just reading about it! I, along with you, have banished my pasta maker, too. I might resurrect it one of these days, only if a special occasion warrants it. And that’s a big if! But still I appreciate your telling us about this disappearing art form. 🙂

    • yes I was tired watching and helping – attention span of gnat problems – also it takes such a long time and I love fast gratification, but the pasta was absolutely delicious, so that I brought back the correct flours to test if I ever get the urge!

  2. Your Nonna would no doubt laugh if my tiny pack of 00 flour made an appearance. It’s the first time for me to buy the stuff, and only as it’s a new product in that store. Huh, now I’m even more confused – semolina flour in pasta? And I thought it was durum.

    • hello there, you just made me google 🙂 – apparently durum is used to make semolina and pasta flour – and according to what I could find the pasta flour is called – durum semolina flour – thanks for that information, now I know what to look for when I am here, maybe I can find durum semolina flour even if I’ve never found semolina flour! 00 flour I love it – the feel on your hands is so silky. Have fun.

      • Actually – there is semolina flour – made from durum wheat, and durum flour which is a very fine flour – I googled again 🙂
        ANITA’S ORGANIC semolina flour
        semolina flour
        Why its so great!

        Semolina is the grain of choice for pasta making. It is made from the hard wheat called durum wheat. Although durum wheat is also used to make durum flour, the two flours are not the same. Semolina is made by coarsely grinding the endosperm or heart of the durum wheat kernel. While grinding it, a fine powder is also produced, which is the durum flour.

        When mixed with water, semolina forms a stiff dough that is the main raw ingredient in making pasta. Semolina is also used for a variety of other purposes, including hot breakfast cereals, desserts, artisan breads and cookies.
        An Idea for Preparation

        In addition to pasta dough, there are a number of other uses for semolina. You can substitute semolina flour for some or all of the all-purpose or whole-wheat flour in a bread recipe, which will produce a bread that is tender with a crisp crust. Or make a hot cereal by heating semolina and milk over low heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens. Try adding a pinch of semolina to thicken soups and gravies (because of its high gluten content, a little goes a long way). You can even use semolina to dust the bottom of a pizza crust.

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