Passatelli Pasta Uses Parmigiano Reggiano Right In The Dough

Parmigiano Reggiano often acts as a garnish, topping pasta for a final hit of flavor. However, there are times when the hard cheese makes an appearance in creamy sauces or inside fillings for stuffed pastas. Occasionally, there's even an opportunity to work Parmigiano directly into dough, and such is the case with flavorful strands of passatelli.

Extravagant as a Parmigiano-based pasta may sound, the truth is that passatelli has pretty humble origins. Hailing from Emilia-Romagna, the pasta was crafted as a way to repurpose food scraps like stale bread. Essentially, leftover bits of breadcrumbs would be mixed with a roughly equal amount of Parmigiano and a few eggs, along with a whisper of nutmeg and the zest of a lemon, to create a makeshift dough. This dough would then be passed through a special iron press — a process after which passatelli would eventually be named — to produce short and circular pasta strands, each with a preferred (read: sturdy) diameter of 4 millimeters. 

Since passatelli has an ingredient list that's atypical for traditional flour-based pastas, it should come as no surprise that its consistency is more akin to pillowy dumplings than chewy noodles. Likewise, this also means that passatelli boasts infinitely more flavor than other pasta varieties, meaning it is served thoughtfully as opposed to in heaps.

Special occasions call for a bowl of passatelli in broth

In the days when Parmigiano Reggiano was considered an expensive commodity, passatelli would only be eaten during holidays like Easter or over celebratory meals following baptisms, weddings, or after the birth of a baby. But today,  the rules as to when passatelli can be made are a little less binding, meaning you can enjoy this warm, cheesy pasta on a totally ordinary (but ideally chilly) day.

As for how the pasta should be served, err on the side of simplicity. Rather than accompany decadent passatelli with an equally rich ragù or creamy sauce, pair them with broth. Providing balance while amplifying the deep umami notes found within the dough, opting for broth just makes sense; any sort — from a savory one made from meat to seafood to an earthy mushroom-based broth can take passatelli to new levels of deliciousness. Should you want to add a little something extra to the piping hot soup, elevate passatelli even further with a crack of fresh black pepper and another sprinkle of Parmigiano Reggiano — for good measure, of course!