A recent morning at the beginning of a pasta making session, the gnocchi board on my table gently tugged at my sleeve to remind me of its presence. I picked it up and put it in front of me on the kneading board, then started to play with other tools and the semolina dough I had prepared.
As in the making of garganelli, I used a thin dowel as mini rolling pin to obtain the shape I called mezzi tubi rigati. This short video shows my hands at work:
As you can see from the video, to make a ridged half-pipe (mezzo tubo rigato) the piece of dough gets partially wrapped around the mini rolling pin. The video also shows how to troubleshoot the case when the mezzo tubo adheres to the board at the end of the rolling: use the pin, not your hands, to pick it up.
The dough I used for this pasta is the semolina dough I have described before. The version in the two photos below includes with a minor variation that is completely optional: a teaspoon of grape seed flour (Cabernet Sauvignon), which gives the pasta a beige color.
In the photos, the pasta rests on linens by la FABBRICA del LINO, which I like because of their natural look, soft feel and simple elegance. I think they go quite well with my handmade pasta. (Plus, they need no ironing.)
FTC disclosure: I have received the linens free of charge from the manufacturer. I have not and will not receive any monetary compensation for presenting them on my blog. The experience shared and the opinions expressed in this post are entirely my own.
As usual, I recommend to start with a small amount of dough, so you can give yourself time to learn the hand movements without being overly worried about how much more dough is waiting to be processed. Once the pasta is ready, you can dress it as you prefer, for example with a simple tomato sauce (sugo di pomodoro).
Ingredients for the pasta dough:
- 100 g / 3.5 ounces semolina flour of good quality OR 1 teaspoon grape seed flour + enough semolina flour to make 100 g / 3.5 ounces total
- 50 g / 1.75 ounces warm water
- A pinch of salt
Ingredients for the tomato sauce:
- 1/2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- A shallot, minced
- Leaves of a sprig or two of thyme
- A small garlic clove, thinly sliced
- 2 cups / 475 ml strained roasted tomatoes (thawed, if frozen)
- Fine sea salt, to taste
- Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, to taste
Note #1: I recommend weighing both flour and water because the quantities involved are small.
Note #2: to make the mini rolling pin, purchase a 1/4-inch / 6 mm diameter dowel at the hardware store and cut a piece about 7 inches / 18 cm long. Better yet, cut two or three (the dowel is long enough) so if/when one gets a bit sticky, you have a dry one available.
How to make the dough and shape mezzi tubi rigati
Make a dough with the ingredients and knead until nice and smooth. [This post (with video) talks about how to make semolina pasta dough] Let it rest, well covered (e.g., wrapped in plastic film), for half an hour or so.
Working on the kneading board, roll the dough into a thick salami and cut it into 5-6 pieces. Keep them covered while you shape the mezzi tubi. Roll each piece into a thin snake (3/8 inch / 1 cm thick), then cut into 3/4 inch / 2 cm long pieces.
Place the gnocchi board parallel to you, with the handle pointing left if you are right handed, right otherwise. Working on the gnocchi board, shape each piece into a mezzo tubo rigato with the mini rolling pin (see Note #2 above).
Place a piece of dough on the gnocchi board fairly close to the end (on the opposite side of the handle) with its long sides parallel to the board's ridges. Place the rolling pin lengthwise on the piece of dough so that it touches the side furthest from you. Roll the rolling pin on the piece of dough towards you pressing so that the dough wraps about 3/4 of the way around it.
Do not press hard or the dough will stick to the dowel or to the board, or it will wrap completely around the rolling pin. Gently detach the mezzo tubo from the rolling pin without misshaping it and lay it out to dry on a lightly floured section of the kneading board (or a baking sheet lined with a cotton kitchen towel or, in my case, a linen placemat).
Have two mini rolling pins ready to work with and exchange them every few pieces of pasta. Insert one into some flour in between uses, so it dries out.
Repeat until you have used up the prepared dough.
I suggest making this pasta at least a few hours ahead of cooking so it firms up a bit. In my experience, it keepts its shape quite well during cooking (see photo of the plated mezzi tubi rigati below).
Cook the mezzi tubi rigati and dress as you like. The following tomato sauce is just a suggestion.
How to prepare the tomato sauce
In a small saucepan, warm up the olive oil, then add shallot and thyme. Cook gently for a few minutes, then add garlic. Cook for a couple of minutes, then add tomatoes. Bring to a simmer and cook for 8-10 minutes. Adjust salt, to taste.
Note that this will make more sauce than you need to dress the orecchiette, but once you have the sauce ready, I am sure you'll find ways of using it, like making more handmade pasta.
How to cook the mezzi tubi rigati
Bring a small pot of water to a rolling boil, add some coarse salt, stir and then toss the mezzi tubi in it. The time needed to cook them is a bit variable, depending on the size and dryness of the pasta, but it is not long.
In the case of the photo above, I warmed up the slow-roasted tomatoes so by the time the pasta was cooked, the sauce was ready to go with it.
Taste and stop the cooking when the mezzi tubi are ready. Pour a glass of cold water in the pot, stir and drain the mezzi tubi. Place them in a bowl, sprinkle a bit of the cheese on them and stir briefly, then distribute some tomato sauce and toss. (When dressing pasta, remember that the sauce is an accompaniment and as such it should play its part discreetly, not overwhelm the protagonist.) Finally, sprinkle some cheese on top and serve immediately.
Alternatively, while the pasta is cooking, place a few tablespoons of the tomato sauce in a small skillet and warm it up. Pour a glass of cold water in the pot and stir. Drain the mezzi tubi leaving a little bit of the cooking water clinging to the pasta and drop into the skillet with the sauce. Stir well over medium-low heat for about half a minute. Sprinkle some of the cheese and stir one last time. Plate and sprinkle a bit more cheese on the top. Serve immediately.
The recipe makes two small portions (served as Italian first course).
A reminder that there is a page on the blog where you can browse the complete collection of handmade pasta shapes, some of them, like the mezzi tubi rigati above, of my own creation.
The photo is my contribution to edition #153 of Black and White Wednesday - A Culinary Photography Event created by Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook, now organized by Cinzia of Cindystar, and hosted this week by Lynne of Cafe Lynnylu.
The photo was shot in color with my iPhone and then converted to sepia (Lightroom preset Sepia Tone).
Click on the button to hear me pronounce the Italian words mentioned in the post:
or launch the mezzi tubi rigati fatti a mano audio file [mp3].
[Depending on your set-up, the audio file will be played within the browser or by your mp3 player application. Please, contact me if you encounter any problems.]