Pasta a Picchio Pacchiu Recipe

Heirloom Eats

heir·loom (noun):
A valuable object that has belonged to a family for several generations
From furniture and faith to collectibles and character traits, there are a lot of things that get passed down over the course of a family’s history, and recipes are no exception. But a recipe nurtured by generations of love and care is so much more than the food it creates. It’s also a reminder of the laughter and light that can happen when a family comes together.

Photography by Rich Smith

“This recipe always reminds me of late summer – making the most of the last tomatoes and basil of the season as we transitioned into the olive harvest in Sicily, where I’m originally from. My mother would make it in late September while we harvested olives all day. It was always so refreshing and felt like an annual farewell to tomatoes until the next year. Now I enjoy sharing this and other Sicilian traditions with my wife’s family here in Chattanooga.”

– Benedetto “Benny” Scaduto

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Pasta a Picchio Pacchiu serving on plate

Pasta a Picchio Pacchiu

Benedetto Scaduto
Course Main Course
Cuisine Sicilian
Servings 6


For the pasta:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup semolina flour
  • 4 tsp. salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil

For the sauce:

  • 5 medium heirloom tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 medium-size yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch basil
  • 8 oz. fresh cacio-cavallo cheese or parmigiano reggiano, grated
  • 1/2 pinch crushed red pepper
  • 2 pinches salt
  • 1 pinch black pepper


To make pasta:

  • Thoroughly sift together all-purpose flour, semolina flour, and a pinch of salt.
  • On a clean surface, make a mound out of the flour mixture and make a deep well in the center.
  • Break the eggs into the well and add olive oil.
  • Whisk eggs very gently with a fork, gradually incorporating flour from the sides of the well.
  • When the mixture becomes too thick to mix with a fork, begin kneading with your hands.
  • Knead the dough for 10-12 minutes or until smooth and supple.
  • Dust dough and work surface with semolina as needed to keep the dough from becoming sticky.
  • Wrap dough tightly in plastic and allow it to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.

To start the sauce:

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  • Remove the core from the tomatoes, lightly score the skin, and put in boiling water for 10-15 minutes or until the skin begins to pull away from the fruit.
  • Drain the tomatoes and let cool.
  • Once cool, carefully peel the skin from the tomatoes, cut into small chunks, and set aside.
  • In a large pan, heat olive oil over medium heat.
  • Once the oil shimmers, add the onion and garlic.
  • Cook until fragrant and tender.
  • Add the tomato pulp with ⅓ of the basil leaves, ⅓ of the cheese, crushed red pepper, salt, and pepper, and let sauce thicken (about 30 minutes).
  • Set aside.
  • Roll out the dough with a pasta machine or a rolling pin to desired thickness.
  • Cut into your favorite style of noodle.
  • Bring water to a boil in a large pot and then add 4 tsp. of salt.
  • Cook pasta until tender but not mushy.
  • Al dente should take about 3 minutes depending on thickness (fresh pasta cooks much faster than dried pasta!).
  • Drain immediately and toss with the sauce on medium-low.
  • Add a few spoons of the pasta water, and cook for 2 more minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  • Serve immediately and garnish with the rest of the fresh basil and freshly grated cheese.
Keyword Pasta a Picchio Pacchiu, pasta from scratch, Sicilian traditions
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