My newest book, celebrating Sicilian history, Cannery Row and mermaid legends is released this summer. In honor of my love for Sicily I wanted to share a favorite article (fist published in 2017) featuring my dear friend Chef Manuel Morsiani.
Many Sicilians from Monterey Bay are influenced from our shared family history. Lots of couscous, fresh fish and certain types of rustic pasta that embraces fresh tomato sauce within the folds. This is via the Western side of the island, where my family originated.
I love what my dear Manuel Morsiani made today. It’s beautiful and he shared with me the wonderful history of Trapani and the influence of the needles that shape the dough to the fine pasta shape.
I bet my Great Auntie Nancy Davi would really twist this perfectly with her knitting needles!!!
-Homemade Busiati Pasta-
This type of pasta is typical of western Sicily (Trapani). The name comes from the type of tool that is used to shape it. In fact, it is patiently prepared by hand with the help of needles, the same tools used to work the wool. From the Sicilian dialect this needle is precisely called “busi”.
180 g semolina durum wheat
90 g water at room temperature
a pinch of salt
Pour the flour and salt in a bowl. Add you water a little at a time long kneading with hands until obtaining a compact, smooth and homogeneous dough. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rest for about half an hour.
Take small pieces of dough and knead with hands, on a pastry not floured, forming strings of dough about 10 cm long and thick 4 – 5 mm. Place a dough strip vertically in front of you and hooked its upper end to the knitting needle, place instead of horizontally. If you do not have it you can use, as I did, one of those wooden sticks that are used for the skewers.
Rotate the wooden stick (or iron – busu ) towards you on the strip of dough with your hands exerting a light pressure to flatten the dough. In this way the dough will scroll around the stick forming a curl.
Finally, carefully remove the stick from the dough. Proceed as described until exhaustion of the dough.
You can allow to dry the dough on a cloth or cook immediately in boiling salted water. The busiati are traditionally served with pesto Trapanese, but they are also excellent with the simple fresh tomato sauce.
From the hometown of Bolgna Italy Manuel Morsiani travels through Italy and is based in Dublin, Ireland. He is a highly trained professional chef trained in fine Italian dining.