Tagliatini con i ceci – Christmas recipe
In Siena they call it “minestra di ceci coi tagliolini “ but the true recipe for Christmas Eve are the “tagliatini con i ceci delle Rose” a hamlet that no longer exists
Le Rose was a tiny hamlet of just two houses where two families lived, each with more than twenty members, and it was found between Torrita and Abbadia di Montepulciano, in the Sienese countryside. In the 1920’s it was abandoned and then demolished. One of the two houses belonged to “Lecca”, my great grandfather, and that is where my grandma Franca lived. As a young woman she learned this Christmas recipe.
“Chi guasta la Vigilia di Natale, corpo di lupo e anima di cane” – “Those who break the Christmas fast, have a wolf’s body and a dog’s soul” my grandma used to say. This was a threat for those who did not follow tradition and forgot to serve at least one dish without meat, always however considered a luxury. This dish is in any case a very tasty one and nourishing at the same time although simple and poor
To serve in the best manner, add a little Extra Virgin olive oil Correggiolo from Fattoria del Colle to each serving
A little flour, eggs, salt, extra virgin olive oil, chick peas, a sprig of Rosemary: all rigorously without precise doses. Consider an egg every 100g of flour.
This memory is very important for me, for us grandchildren it was a real game, to play with flour was a favourite!
The evening before Christmas Eve Grandma Franca prepared among many other things, this soup following always the same procedure. First she would soak the chick peas with a handful of salt sometimes she added bicarbonate of soda to make the more easily digestible. First of all though, the pasta: she would make a mound of flour and break an egg into the crater , she would knead with vigour with her hands and leave the dough to rest, then she would roll it out with a rolling pin, rolling the sheet of pasta over the pin and then cutting the pasta into thin strips. The moment the pasta was ready then Grandma could concentrate on the soup, and for us kids it was time to lay the table for the feast!
She would wash well the chick peas and put them to cook in cold water. The cooking procedure was very slow and when they were cooked she would puree them with a vegetable mill using some of the cooking water so as to obtain a creamy consistency. In another pan she had some oil and a garlic clove simmering lightly. Then she would add a sprig of rosemary, to give flavour, and then she would add the pureed chick peas and some whole ones left aside, in this cream she would cook the tagliatini. She would taste so as to adjust the salt, and then serve with a drizzling of extra virgin olive oil.
She would leave the Tagliatini nice and long and so while we were eating, my cousins and I would always laugh as we had races to see who would suck them in more quickly. Around this dish there was such a magical atmosphere that made Christmas our favourite feast.