Strozzapreti, Italian for priest strangler. Perhaps a less than appetizing name for a very appetizing pasta. How on earth did something so delicious come to be called by such a sinister name?
Legends abound of this thick and tasty pasta and the origins of its name, strozzapreti.
Strozzapreti are typically made with only flour and water, no eggs (though some pasta makers today do use them). Certainly, a product of Cucina Povera, or poor kitchen, which has given Italy some of its most celebrated dishes.
The most charming of the legends has it that during these times many of families had little money to buy expensive ingredients. They still, however had to feed their families, and for the devout Christians at the time it was customary to host a priest for dinner once in a while.
This thick, filling pasta would have been a staple in kitchens like this, as it was inexpensive but nourishing and tasty.
Since it was so delicious, and due to its size and texture, the priests who were served the dish had to be careful not to eat it too quickly, lest they choke. Taste it, and you will likely understand how that could be tempting!
Today’s Italians embrace the legends, the Church, and the pasta, pairing it with some of their most renowned sauces.
You will find Strozzapreti all throughout Italy and in shapes that differ slightly between region but usually have a substantial thickness and twisted shape.
Despite the gruesome name, it is a beloved pasta for good reason. The characteristic thickness and consistency are excellent to hold a hearty sauce.
Ragu with wild boar or rabbit comes to mind, as does a rich dish topped with truffles, or a pomodoro, full of herbs and flavor.
Our hurried culture today has convinced us that pasta is a quick meal. Easy this, “Insta” that, but an artisanal pasta like Strozzapreti is just the opposite. It is made to enjoy slowly, an experience as much as a meal.
You can laugh with your family about the origins of its name, but this pasta is no joke! It is delicious.
The comparatively large noodles and quality of ingredients (durum semolina and mountain spring water) of Mia Emilia’s Strozzapreti pasta offer a unique texture that allows the sauce to not only coat but be absorbed into the noodle. As you bite down, the fullness of the flavor in the wheat and the sauce combine into an experience you have to savor.
The pasta makers at Spighe Molisane adhere to tradition, making this special pasta out of durum wheat semolina and water, without eggs. The water comes from the Matese mountains between the regions of Molise and Campania in Southern Italy. A bit coincidental that the poorest of people were the ones who learned how to use the greatest riches that their homeland provided to create meals of exquisite taste and nutrition.
Today, Cucina Povera, the poor kitchen, has given us a pasta to energize and nourish, one that fed many a family throughout the centuries and is still embraced in homes and hearts today.
Try Strozzapreti with your own, homemade Vodka Sauce, recipe listed below:
½ stick butter
1 medium to large onion diced or handful of green onions diced
1 cup vodka
1 tablespoon salt
2 (28 ounce) cans tomatoes - 1 crushed and 1 whole peeled
1 pint heavy cream or heavy whipping cream
2-3 cloves of garlic
Basil - A good handful cut up. Add some to Sauce and use some on top as garnish.
Red pepper flakes
Grated Parmiagiano Reggiano
In a skillet over medium heat, sauté onion, garlic, salt, and red pepper flakes in butter until slightly brown and soft.
Pour in vodka and let cook for about 10 minutes.
Mix in crushed tomatoes and basil, then cook for approximately 45 minutes.
Pour in heavy cream and cook for another 30 minutes.
You can add the cheese into the sauce and also use on top with basil when prepared.