Three years ago, we honeymooned in Italy. We spent eighteen days trekking the country, exploring cities and local cuisines. Our favorite stop was The Cinque Terre, five small isolated villages connected by hiking trails in the Italian Riveria. We stayed in the middle town of Corniglia, high above the water, 380 steps to be exact, overlooking a cliff.
In this quaint village, we had some of the best food of our lives. Particularly, at A Cantina da Mananan, where we enjoyed a bread like pasta with fresh pesto. After a whirlwind vacation, we returned stateside and wanted to enjoy that delicious plate from The Cinque Terre. Much to our dismay, we had forgotten the name of the dish. Since we had never encountered this type of pasta in the United States, so began a three year hunt to find the name and recipe of this unique Tuscan classic.
We’d given up many times in our recipe search, but most recently found success! Somebody had posted a photo of the ever-changing chalkboard menu at A Cantina da Mananan, and we google searched each pasta type until we found the one – Testaroli!
You are probably wondering what Testaroli is . . .
Also known as Tuscan Bread Pasta, it is considered one of the earliest recorded pastas. Testaroli is made from a simple batter. It is traditionally cooked on a flat terra-cotta surface, called a testo. It can be served as a bread or a crepe, or boiled further to create a soft spongey texture. Most commonly served with pesto.
And so we give you a recipe for Testaroli Pasta with Basil Pesto. We served this with bean salad and zucchini-tomato sauté. But this dish can easily stand alone or pair with sides of your choosing.
Some of the recipes call for weights for more exactness.
- 150g semolina flour
- 150g “00” flour – double zero is a super finely ground flour that is preferable for pasta
- 6g salt
- 1g baking powder
- 476g water
First, sift all dry ingredients into a bowl. Slowly incorporate the water with a whisk until smooth. Refrigerate at least one hour before cooking.
Note: It shouldn’t be thick like pancake batter, but not too runny either. You can add more water or more flour to adjust accordingly.
- 2 cans of white cannelloni beans
- zest of 1/2 a lemon
- 10 san marzano tomatoes, sliced or 10 grape tomatoes, halved
- 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 cup of picked parsley leaves, roughly chopped
- around 1/4 cup of olive oil
- salt, pepper and red wine vinegar to taste
Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Then season with the salt, pepper and red wine vinegar. This bean salad is best after its marinated for a little while.
- 50g basil leaves, picked with no stems
- 1g garlic clove
- 20g parmesan
- 20g almonds
- 15g lemon juice
- 100g olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients into food processor, except olive oil. Process while slowly adding the olive oil until all ingredients are well incorporated.
Zucchini Tomato Sauté
- 1 large or 2 small zucchinis, cut into half moons
- 30 fresh san marzano tomatoes, left whole
- 1 shallot, thinly sliced
- 1 small garlic clove, finely minced or pressed
- olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
In a large pan, heat up your olive oil on medium. Once it’s very hot, carefully add your tomatoes, cook until they start to blister. You will see some coloring on the skin. Now, add your shallots, cook for about 1 and a half minutes. Careful not to brown the shallots.
By this time your tomatoes should be bursting, add your garlic. Toss for thirty seconds. Add the zucchini, toss. Season with some salt and pepper. Cook until zucchini becomes tender, about two minutes. Turn off the heat. Taste and adjust for salt. Best served hot.
Making The Pasta
You want to eat this pasta immediately after boiling it. So have your pesto and any sides ready before this step.
First, have a pot of salted boiling water ready.
For the actual pasta, you can use a cast iron skillet, but it should be well seasoned. We used a 9″ nonstick pan.
Get your pan very hot. We used a 2 oz ladle of batter at a time. Add your batter to the middle of the pan and move the pan around to spread the batter across the entire bottom.
When you start to see that the bottom has cooked, and there’s very little raw batter on the top – flip. Finish cooking and try to get some brown spots on both sides.
We made roughly three for two people. Then we cut them into diamonds and boiled for no more than a minute.
Drain and immediately top it with pesto and garnish with parmesan cheese!
Beats: We listened to The Beatles while making this dinner!